Autumn slipped in quietly this year with no more fanfare than a tic on the calendar. She quietly dismissed summer and took her place to ease in winter.
In the later stages of her work she will, no doubt, become moody and sometimes sullen and often temperamental and occasionally boisterous, but for now she copied summer’s grace and spirit.
On this day she cooperated quite nicely with the life of the East Tennessee mountains. Her warmth was inviting and I did take advantage of it, spending the afternoon on the deck of our little cottage nestled in the roots of the Holston mountains.
I’m not the only one. Apparently one of our neighbors with a house boat down our neck of Sharps Creek cove is taking advantage of this warm afternoon to do some dwelling rehab. To be brutally honest a couple of those water-born structures could use a bit of sprucing up, so as with all the other ruckus this afternoon, it is a welcome sound.
Well, except for one occasional bit of tranquility interruption. Part of the project apparently involves replacing panels or deck rails or something along those lines. Whatever it is, it is reluctant to go. When the builder applies the crowbar persuader, the rusty nails scream as they’re pulled from their long-time home. Most disconcerting. The staccato beat of a hammer securing a good replacement piece is far better than the screeching of removing the bad. I am anxious to see the result of these afternoon remodelings.
The forest was exuberant with life today. Given the avian hubbub, I would only surmise that every bird native to our mountains was out today. The auditory ambiance was chaotic, but only superficially so. Beneath the competing noise was a comforting rhythm and order. The casal listener would not discern it, but if you paid attention, really close attention, you could make out the structure of call and response. I suppose it’s nature’s “white noise”.
Another observation I’ve made is that apparently crickets and their insect and amphibian backup band seem to start performing earlier. Perhaps it is because as the days become shorter, they come on stage in late afternoon rather than just before twilight. Either way the sound still soothes me, but it is yet another reminder that winter is coming when the stage will be empty and all will be quiet.
Autumn frequently summons summer’s typically stagnate air mass from high to low pressure points. The points are crafted by warm air rising and cool air falling. A yearly participant on autumn’s entourage, the result is a nice breeze that cools and freshens her warm afternoons. Did I mention that it also blows the mosquitoes away?
That same breeze also shakes the already dead leaves from the trees in our forest. Fine by me since I much prefer autumn’s gold and orange to dead brown. The departed leaf purge adds a warmth and glow to the mountain sides and that same glow spills like bright watercolors into the valleys as well. The gentle wind also sings as it encounters the branches, leaves and meadow grass it finds along the way.
Autumn does indeed sing as she changes the green mountain blankets to yellow and orange coverings preparing for the quiet sleep of winter.