But these days are crisp and gorgeous during daylight hours -- high 40s as I write, and yesterday Martha took note of a 37-degree mark when she rode down into town. The leaves have been changing for a while, starting to burn red and gold, and everyday there are more of them cluttering the gravel of our driveway. The ferns are going brown and the wind brings a reminder: if you go out, take a jacket.
Our correspondents in the field, Don and Barbara Stringfellow, send word that birds are on the move: "The Broadwing hawks and Monarch butterflies have started migrating,"" Don e-mailed a few days ago. "Barbara and I were up on the Parkway this morning and in about 10 minutes time we saw a couple of hundred hawks. One Kettle had about 50 in it. Should be quite a show for the next couple of weeks."
old friend Bill Howell, who lives in France these days but who in the
1960s was my co-partner in a boyhood enterprise of building treehouses
and forts in the woods and at least one raft that never quite floated
and plumbing the mysteries of a '49 Plymouth, or maybe it was a
Chrysler, is in town for a visit. We've been roofing the new shop porch
and cleaning out the garden and, just yesterday afternoon, stacking oak
and locust firewood under shelter for the first of the season's fires
in the soapstone woodstove. It's not cold enough yet to keep one going,
or even to start the first one, but I'm guessing it won't be long.
I've split boxes of kindling from the legions of pine and spruce cutoffs
from one building project or other over the years, and we've shifted
from taking old newspapers to the recycling point to keeping them around
for starting the new fires that will take off the chill and keep the
house warm as the days grow shorter.|
Last winter was a mild one and probably spoiled us for one of those Patrick County winters that longtime residents recall, when the snow flies early and the hawk is out every day, beating the air into gusts that rattle the metal roof and remind you that the thought of a roaring bonfire blast furnace in the burn pile in July seems like a pretty good idea after all.