Some years autumn makes a gentle, slow, and easy entrance into the North Country. Not this year.
Autumn 2020 crashed through the door howling and angry on the final day of September, and through the first three days of October it has not been a pleasant guest. Temperatures dropped to 30 degrees at night, mornings dawned on a series of gray days with wild and ragged overcast skies, northwest winds blew steadily at 20 miles per hours with gusts up to 30, and a mist and spatter of rain fell each time I ventured outside.
The wind has stripped most of the leaves from the trees – all of the walnut and poplar – and the overnight frosts have curled the rest and crisped the buds and blooms of the late summer surge of clover in our hayfield. The garden is done for as well, but we expected that since mid-September and we have harvested the last of the tomatoes, peppers, squash, and potatoes. (Green tomato relish and salsa are one of the few benefits of autumn’s onset.)
I was hoping for a few late-September days of hard frost and then a week or two of Indian summer when temperatures climbed back into the 50s and cerulean blue skies formed a dome over a landscape of fall woodland colors, the sweet scent of decaying leaves and browning grasses filing the air, carried on soft breezes. But Nature, that Goddess with a twisted sense of humor, painted the sky with streaks of gray and black, tore down the colorful gauzy curtains, and sprayed us with ice water. For her, the epitome of a good practical joke; for me, a nasty prank that has put me in a vulgar mood.
This foul weather has made me all the more sullen because the first day of the bow hunting season for deer was October 1. I should be exhilarated, not morose, sitting in a ground blind or perched on a tree stand over a much-traveled deer trail, the cool and fragrant autumn air lifting me with a nicotine-like rush into a realm just below heaven. Instead, I am shivering in the gloom of the doorway to the underworld every morning, not yet acclimated to this early arrival of late-fall weather.
Damn. Just – DAMN!
But sunny skies and highs in the 50s are forecast for next week. Maybe that will grant me a good long month of autumn weather and pull me up from the doldrums. I’ll have a late morning cup of coffee on the deck, look out over the North Country, and realize that I am the richest man in the world.
It would really help if I would take a good deer with the bow, too. Are you listening, Goddess of Nature?