"Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile." [Indian Summer]
~ William Cullen Bryant
The wind has busily stripped most of the larger trees almost bare, save for stubborn patchy garlands of orange & yellow stragglers; but the smaller trees & bushes still proudly boast thick ribbons & clusters of fluttering scarlet & neon gold edged in somewhat sketchy shades of green.
The Hummingbirds are departed from here quite some time ago, but soon the Bluejays & the Chickadees will be here, thick as thieves. Daily now, fat Canada Geese land in our hayfields by the hundreds to rest a short while & to bolt down as much food as they can hold before The Saint charges into their midst, barking joyfully & sending them up in raucously protesting waves to flap away south overhead in their signature arrowhead formations.
The vegetable gardens are harvested & cleaned, save for the chives which the family appreciates snipped into garlic mashed potatoes at suppertime served alongside the last of the sweet, fresh carrots & a roast of our own mouth-watering home-raised meat.
The succulent watermelon vines & Bleeding Hearts, being so tender as they are, have succumbed to the cold & lay lifeless & withered in their beds, just waiting until the Sedum stops its' happy, oblivious blooming & all the other assorted greenery to signal me that they have stored enough energy to tide them over winter by wilting & yellowing.
Before I know it, the time will have come to stow the naturally artsy chunks of driftwood, the ornamental sculptures, the trellis' & the windchimes away in the old house, & to shield the flowerbeds with their customized lattice caps that remind stir-crazy barncats that they may not shortcut through the gardens even though they lay dormant these next several months.
The pigs have gone to butcher; their pen & wooden shelter so quiet now, though Manic greedily sniffs in all the stories they oinked to each other all summer long while she was forbidden to enter the sanctuary lest she harass them; or they decide to stomp her brazen little head into their muddy wallow. There will be another pair or 3 oinking jokers to love & fuss over come next spring - for now, our big freezer is stuffed tight with meat that is in a whole 'nother taste category than the commercially bred pork available in the grocery stores.
The horses' still slick forms gleam in the sunlight now, but it won't be long before their undercoats begin to grow in & they will more resemble horse-shaped puffballs.
For now they graze lazily, hardly bothered by the last sluggish flies of the season. I've dropped the wire at the mouth of the hayfield to give the horses access to the small bounty that has sprouted up since the final cutting - they are gleefully & systematically mowing it to the ground, putting on a few extra pounds for what will inevitably come.
The days of great & lustily blown snorts & plumes of steam that momentarily transform horses to dragon-steeds are coming... but slowly, I hope, slowly.
Here's wishing that you will all have the chance to linger in & enjoy this last but loveliest smile of 2015 for as long as Mother Nature chooses to favour us with her charms.