8.21.2010

The Last Waltz

It’s cold here. Not winter cold where the tips of your fingers hurt. But summer cold: the kind that shakes you with the realization that fall has begun.

“Lows in the 30s.” That’s the code phrase that means it has begun. You say that at dinner or at the farmers market, and people nod with their eyebrows raised. Yes, their eyes tell you, I’ve got a lot to do.

The wood needs to be stacked, the oil needs to be pre-bought, and the down comforters need to be found from wherever it was that they were stashed. The painting needs to be finished, the apples need to be picked, and the chicken coop needs to be reamed out.

Around these parts, people crash into September with giddiness. It’s the best time of year, they frequently say. And they are frequently right.

Part of it is the return to industriousness … putting the laziness of summer aside, and rushing full on into winter prep mode.

The colors are part of it, for sure. And so is the food. The sharp pressed cider and the hoppy beers, naturally preserved for the long winter ahead. The late August corn and a farm raised steak cooked over a woodfire. The pink flakes of wild trout caught on a broken fly rod with a dusty muddler that somebody clearly sat on.

But it’s also the race against time to squeeze one more perfect day into the year: one more hike, one more ride, one more day in short sleeves with the windows open and the radio loud. The closer you get to winter, the more precious those days become.

And catching a few hours of perfect weather in late October or early November rivals any summer day, anywhere.

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