This summer has given us many torrid and sultry days. The excessive rains that began in the spring and continued throughout the summer have kept the soil so saturated with moisture that it is stirred into a dense ground fog by the rising sun that gradually dissolves and hangs oppressively in the air throughout the day before returning to the ground at the end of the day as an evening thunderstorm or a heavy dew. Every time that a front has swept through, enticing us with a brief reprieve of refreshing dry air and cool nights, the heat and humidity returns and dampens our hopes for a lasting relief. In all honesty, the heat itself has not been extreme, as the highest temperature of the year (thus far) has been 93 degrees on August 29, but the intense humidity combined with numerous daytime highs between 86 and 92 degrees has made it very uncomfortable to work outdoors. There is little relief from the heat after sunset, as our morning low temperatures have not dipped below 63 degrees since August 26. What cooling we have received after sunset only serves to make the air feel even more dank and humid than it was during the heat of the day. Yet, as we work our way into the month of September, we relish the knowledge that this oppressive summer weather pattern will change for the better.
That confidence is bolstered by the changes we see emerging across our landscape. The summer flowers have gradually faded away and are being replaced by the golden early autumn blooms of wingstem and goldenrod. The summer weeds are dying back as evidenced by the growing prevalence of brown and wilted stems along the roadsides. Even the droning sounds of the cicadas and katydids are fading away despite the lingering heat. The daylight hours are waning rapidly now, and each night becomes apparently longer than the last. Our memories of these changes tell us that the weather can only resist them for so long. Fall is certainly on the horizon.
I was thinking about this yesterday morning as I sat on our front porch admiring a truly beautiful sunrise. I realized that we would have a pretty sunrise when I noticed an orange glow building low on the horizon over Middle Mountain. The air was still and the sky was dotted with dark, thin morning clouds. After a few moments, the sunlight began to decorate the edges of those clouds with a soft, rosy tint and the dark background sky began to assume a subtle shade of aquamarine. As the sun approached the horizon, I could see its golden glow reflected on the leading edges of the most distant clouds over the mountain. It was a peaceful and reassuring scene that boldly proclaimed better days are on the way. I look forward to cooler, refreshing nights and a vibrant, colorful fall foliage season.
Our summer chores here at Peeper Pond Farm are also changing. Our vegetable garden is dying back and we have begun removing many of the plants we sowed. Much of our bounty has been canned or frozen for the winter. We look forward to making some fresh, homemade cider for the winter. Lawn mowing is the only summer task that remains. Once the heat and humidity finally breaks, we will begin our routine fall chores in preparation for the cold and snow of winter. We really don’t know what to expect for winter this year, but as usual, we will prepare for the worst. Aside from ordering a refill of our LP gas tank, we have already acquired and stored all the heating fuel we will need for the coming winter season. No matter what happens or how hard the wind blows, we know that our house will remain warm and cozy.
Our resident deer, which we named, Peeper, has disappeared. We haven’t seen her for at least three consecutive weeks. Even Calli has stopped watching for her to emerge from the ravine in the mornings. Perhaps she was struck by a car. We have no idea of where she has gone or why, but we hope that she is off seeking a mate for the fall. Maybe she is finally asserting her adult independence and no longer needs the security of her childhood home on our farm. All we can do is wish her well. It is the same wish that I have for you, our loyal readers. Happy autumn from all of us here at Peeper Pond Farm.