Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. After the heat of summer the air becomes crisp, the woods become patchwork quilts, and the ground prepares for sleep. In my teens autumn meant beginnings — return to school, marching band at football games, brisk winds swirling leaves around the yard, and running cross country. It was an exciting time, a time for eagerness and anticipation and buttoned up coats.
Autumn is now rapidly approaching us in Clarksburg. Sunset comes earlier now and the sun has shifted further toward the south. The air has begun to feel different; plants are gradually drying, scattering their seeds for next spring’s growth. My moonflowers, too, are preparing to sleep. After extravagant blooms through the past weekend there are no new buds, no expectation of more blooms this year, and the leaves are thinning.
Nearly two weeks ago we took a drive to the east, into the mountains to the Fairfax Stone, crossing the eastern continental divide twice and swinging in a great circle back home from the south.
At the higher elevations the autumn colors had already begun to appear, subtle patches of red and yellow sprinkled through the green. Some brightly colored leaves speckled the ground in places.
Last year we missed the color change in the mountains because we had returned to Austin for a final month of work and house cleaning before our big move. By the time we came back the early days of winter were upon us, the trees were bare, and snow dusted the lawn and streets. This year we will see the change. We’ll also rake the leaves, cut the dead flower stalks, prepare the ground for its annual rest, and prepare ourselves for the winter.