We covered up the tomatoes last night. There was a warning of possible frost for our area. As it turned out, we didn’t get frost last night but there is still a possibility of frost tonight, so we’ll have to cover the tomato plants again. After that, we’re supposed to see highs in the 70s and 80s for a week or so with overnight lows in the 40s and 50s. Not bad as we approach the middle of October. There have been plenty of years since we moved to the hills when we had the garden closed up around the first of October. It was only three years ago, in 2013, when we got slammed with a huge blizzard on October 3 that pretty much had us snowed in and shut down for two or three days.

This beautiful autumn we are enjoying certainly invites some reflection. It has been beautiful. There are still plenty of colors in the hills, though some believe that we’ve passed the peak of fall colors. Lots of trees in town still have their leaves even though most have changed color. Autumn is a season of metaphor and poetry and, like the other seasons of life, invites reflection on the bigger picture.

Many of the tribes of the plains counted the length of a person’s life by counting the number of winters that person had survived. Winter can be harsh around here and just surviving it is a victory worthy of a celebration.

The problem with smilies, however, is that they are by nature imprecise. When something is “like” another thing it isn’t the same as that other thing.

I’m trying to find ways to talk about the season and the winter without drawing comparison to the stages of life. I enjoy the autumn. I even like winter. But I resist describing myself as in the “autumn” of life. I was born in the spring, just before it passed into summer. Who knows what season of the year will be my last? For now, however, it appears that I have many more seasons left in my life and I’d like to retain the spring in my step without ceasing autumn strolls. I just think that the use of seasons as similes for the stages of human life is over played in much of our literature and I’d like to avoid that particular comparison for now.

There are so many ways in which the seventh decade of life is not like autumn. As they go through the cycle of seasons the flow of sap in a tree varies, in part due to changes in temperature. As it gets colder, the flow of sap decreases. Humans don’t do that as they age. Despite very effective treatment, my blood pressure is a bit higher in this decade of my life than it was in earlier ones. Quite frankly, I’m not a whole lot like a tree. I don’t go dormant in the winter. I take in water by drinking, not by creating suction in my roots. And, unlike a tree, I’m prone to wandering through the forest and occasionally traveling great distances.

I suppose there is nothing inherently wrong with talking about the autumn of one’s life. I’m just tired of it.

This year I’m enjoying the displays of pumpkins for sale around town and the fall decorations that are appearing without thinking of death particularly. I’m in a mood to celebrate the joys of the season without thinking that this is somehow the end.

Our garden is inspiring me. Although the days are shorter and there is less total sunshine for the tomatoes to ripen, they continue to put forth color. Our garden was nearly wiped out by hail on July 15, so it is well behind the regular season. I suppose there are 50 or more tomatoes that I’d prefer to have ripen on the vine. We could pick them and they would ripen indoors, but we’ll wait as long as we continue to have deliciously warm days. The pedals are dropping off of the sunflowers and the garden looks a bit different than it does most years. That’s no worry, each year is a blessing with its own unique flow of events. Most years we’re picking the last tomatoes while the heads on the sunflowers are still brilliant yellow. This just isn’t most years. It is unique.

I’m content to experience the season without needing to contemplate the shortness of life or the inevitability of death.

After all, autumn holds as many surprises as does spring in this part of the world.

A paddle on the lake brings no sensation that ice is coming soon. Even when there is a chill in the morning, as has been true for several days, I haven’t had to resort to the ice scraper for the windshield yet. If I turn on the heater in the car as I drive to work in the morning, I’m surprised at the hot air coming out when I start it up to head home in the afternoon and quickly get my windows opened to feel the outside air. The days may be a bit shorter, but the sun still packs a significant amount of energy. With sunrise around 7 am and sunset still nearly 6:30 pm, we’ve still got lots of daylight left. I did, however, reset the clock controlling the light on our church’s outdoor cross last night when I discovered that it was waiting until 8 pm to turn on the light. I can remember when it stayed light until 8 pm, but those days are now past.

I’ll take winter when it comes. I have warm jackets and like the crunch of snow underfoot. Given the choice I probably prefer shoveling snow to mowing the lawn, but neither chore is distasteful. I’ve got warm gloves and warm socks and I like the feel of lying under a couple of comforters at night. But I’ve no need to rush the change of seasons.

For now I’m content to just enjoy fall for what it is: a beautiful time to be in the hills.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!