The misty mornings of October melt into golden afternoons and crystal clear moonlit nights. Everywhere there is a riot of color. The trees that surround our gulch have turned into a color palette of autumn. There are leaves of yellow, gold and orange. They are joined by leaves of brown, scarlet and crimson. Remarkably there are still some hardy green leaves mixed in here and there.
We have already experienced a few frosty mornings and have enjoyed the warmth of a fire built in the wood stove. There is a faint aroma of camphor in the air from the blankets brought out of storage to warm the cool nights to come. The afternoon breeze is still warm and playfully whisks the fallen leaves across the still green grass of the yard and pasture.
This is also the time of the apple harvest. Roadside stands have been set up and are filled with baskets brimming with apples. There are apples to fill bowls for immediate eating, apples that keep well for winter storage and apples that make the best pies ever. The house holds the fragrance of gently simmering apple butter, laced with the heady aroma of cinnamon, allspice, ginger and cloves.
The meadows and pastures are a sea of goldenrod interrupted only by islands of purple asters. Monarch butterflies stop to sip the nectar as they begin their long migration to an isolated hilltop forest somewhere in Mexico. The woolly bear caterpillars are migrating as well, to a place where they will hibernate for the winter. The amount of black on their bodies does not predict the severity of Winter, but their presence foretells its coming.