Labor Day is long past, it means the death knell of summer. I hate to see it go but you don’t really need a calendar to know that fall is on the way. The morning air has a crispness to it not found during the dog days of summer. The bright green brought on by the summer rains is becoming duller, browner and patches of bright colors are starting to appear. Pumpkins are starting to appear on local farm stands and in the market meaning that the end of the growing season is just around the corner.
The first signs of squirrel fever are starting to appear. This restless feeling arises in my chest, I start moving quicker. I look around and see all the little jobs I wanted to do before winter set in are still waiting for my attention and now the time to do them is growing shorter. I pause for a moment in the yard and watch my not so far distant relatives scurrying around gathering food for the oncoming winter then start my own scurry. Porch steps need rebuilding, porch needs to be scrapped and painted, there’s wood to be cut and split, the gardens need work before their winter naps, I scurry from job to job, anxiety building. No wonder so many squirrels commit suicide this time of the year, their broken little corpses litter the highways as they dash this way and that trying to get run over.
The passing tractor trailers are starting to look good to me. I pause and take a deep breath. The weather is still good, probably another couple of months until snow. I’ve got time. I stop, put away my tools and head to the market to relax. I buy flour, sugar, coffee, bread, milk and head for home. I pull into our local farmer’s stand. I load up on sweet corn and tomatoes. I look over the pumpkins and buy some squash. They still have kale and Swiss chard, I get some of both. I steer Casper, the friendly Kia, towards home filled almost to his ample capacity. I feel more relaxed, can’t let the oncoming bad weather get to me. Comparing myself to a squirrel is just completely silly. I don’t have as much hair as they do and I’m no where near as smart or agile.
Arriving at home, oncoming rain sends me scurrying from the car to the house, back and forth, almost running. Passing in the opposite direction, from the sunflower full of seeds to his home in the maple tree, almost running is the big gray squirrel I call “Lucky.” The name comes from the fact that he’s lucky that I haven’t shot him yet. Back and forth we scurry in opposite directions. Finally I pause, slightly out of breath, Lucky stops and sits upon the top of the stump of the old soft maple we removed this spring. We looked at each other for a while and I admitted to the panting rodent that maybe we weren’t so different after all. Actually, we were much the same. He tipped his head, looked at me as if he understood, hopped off the stump, ran to the middle of the road and sat down to await his inevitable fate. A stress case if I ever saw one.
Thought for the week — Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat. — Alex Levine
Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.
Reach Dick at firstname.lastname@example.org.