With the clinging humidity seeming to relent and the rays of a scorching sun slowly cooling from a boil to a comfortable simmer, summer seems to be on schedule to be dismissed in the next day or two. I may miss the sounds of laughter and splashing water from the days at the lake, swimming in the cold mountain water. The quiet trickle of the ice cold water as it flows around me saving me from the summer swelter as I relaxed in the creek will always stay with me. Memories are built on the tendrils of charcoal smoke that rise all around you at any state park on a hot Saturday. It only takes a little whiff of that magic scent to conjure up a whole host of wonderful thoughts and bring a smile to my face. This summer I spent a relaxing afternoon savoring all of these things at Oquaga Creek State Park. The park had all the ingredients of a perfect summer memory, the splashing, the laughter, the escape from the oppressive heat, the charcoal cooking at every grill, even a warm breeze slightly swaying the shade trees.
I hold these memories close but not nearly as close as the woodsmoke that hangs low as the temperature begins to drop. The splashing can be easily replaced by the sounds of hayride tractors and rustling, crunching leaves in brown and red and yellow. That warm breeze is trumped by the chilly caress on my face of its autumnal brother that brings with it the promise of a night's frost. The colors of the day turn from vivid green and stunning blue to more muted shades of brown and gray with a bright splash of orange from the fruit of the season, the venerable pumpkin. There is fresh-pressed apple cider to drink and glorious cider donuts and the pies, oh the pies, pumpkin and apple. Days at the lake are replaced by crisp mornings at the orchard picking apples or comfortable afternoons gathering pumpkins. Wood calls for splitting for the winter to come and some for the fire pit to fend off the chill and the creeping night that comes earlier and earlier.
Fall is the best season. The excited anticipation of holidays quickly approaching. The ghouls and ghosts begin to gather. The turkey is preparing for the feast, as well as family. There are seasons to be in the woods with friends and family. The windows can once again open to the fresh outside air that is not trying to suck the very life from my skin through its intense heat. I feel a new energy, an excitement, a sense of adventure renewed. I am reinvigorated and ready, for the woods, the pies, the cider, the day trips to the farm markets and roadside stands, the essential pumpkin beers and harvest ales (their brown, dark, nutty goodness haunts me all year long. They are my trick or treat.). We are on the brink of autumn and I am more than ready.