We sat in the kitchen after the walkabout, with scents of a roasting chicken and root vegetables perfuming the air. It was cocktail hour. Outside, it was raining. At higher elevations, we'd seen the first heavy, wet snowflakes of the season. By the time we had reached our destination, the upslope storm, which was backed up against the eastern face of the Roof of the World, began to spill over. The fog reduced visibility on the tundra to maybe twenty feet, and that was with a wrinkle, a squint, and giving a benefit of the doubt.
Our companion was telling us about deals and steals he'd gotten at his local farmer's market. He spoke of making pestos and freezing peaches for cobblers later, in the deep winter. Ways of preparing for the coming season. As he spoke, my glance tracked across the valley in the pouring rain. The clouds hung just over the Bull's Head, just a few hundred feet above Rue Main. It was in those moments I found myself coming to grips with the realization that summer was over and done with.
For the next four days it was close-toed shoes and socks. Jackets and layers. Thankfully, the dusting we saw upon the high peaks never came any further down than a little lower than ten-thousand, but there was still the nip in the air, letting everyone and everything know autumn had come to the pointy lands.
A popular question amongst the tourists this time of year is when will the aspens change. Whilst I agree the changing of foliage can be quite striking-we even have a festival about it in these parts, but us kooky mountain folk will use just about any old excuse to throw a party-there's something about traveling distances just to watch the trees rust that seems a little silly. It seems a little later this year than others, but over the last few days I've seen more and more omens of the season, the autumn rust.
"I'd like it a lot better if it didn't mean winter was so close," Sabina lamented when I pointed out some fading green.
Normally, I rather enjoy autumn. I accept the coming of winter, because that's part of the cycle. Besides, living in the mountains, one has to deal with it for at least half a year.
This year I find myself not as thrilled at the sight of autumn rust. It was a hot summer, and that was quite enjoyable up here. Of course, given it snowed pretty well through spring, making it winter, the sequel, there was a consensus among a good many of us that we should get an extended summer. Of course, as the old song says, you can't always get what you want. Mei fei tsu.
I watch the trees rust, figuring in the next few days the mountainsides will turn the colors of spun gold, flames, and emerald. My layers are ready, but, in the High Country, you never really put away your cold-weather clothes. You just fetch your raiment from another section of the wardrobe. I hope for an indian summer, but work on accepting the fact autumn is here, and the first snows are not far behind.