The Harbingers of Change

September 6, 2016
When the stores said fall was upon us, I didn’t believe them.  Stores put out their “Back-to-School” signage before the summer is half way through.  On the other hand, the calendar’s decree of fall’s arrival comes far too late.  By that time, classes are well-started and my old school has won at least three football games.  No, you can’t predict the seasons by anything man-made.  The long, slow slide away from summer started about 3 weeks ago, according to my early warning portents.  I know when the year starts to turn by the leaves, the nuts and the spiders.
A 2 day haul of acorns and pecans.
Anyone want to pick up the rest?
Some people say they see the signs of fall.  Me, I hear about it first from the trees.  When the leaves are still green and the thermometer hovers above 90, trees signal the change of season with a series of small bombing raids generally known as the falling of nuts.  Phooey.  These nuts don’t fall.  From the sound of them hitting our roof, they are hurled and God help what they hit when they land.  The impacts and ricochets sound like gunfire and the noise initially scares the hell out of me and the cats. Now, we are so inured to the occasional bangs and rattles that I doubt we’ll even notice when they cease. At least then, I’ll be able to rake the leaves without fear of a concussion.

The trees begin their annual strip routine about two weeks after the nuts start falling.  The whole business takes about three months so these are early days.  But in the meantime, I sweep the leaves off the deck in the morning…

…and sweep more of them away at noon.
I keep telling myself that sweeping is good, low-impact, exercise and this is just the first of the season.  So I re-clear the deck and rearrange the modular seats for good measure.  (If reincarnation exists, I’m probably the idiot who shifted Titanic’s deckchairs around while the liner foundered.) Sweeping leaves at this stage is no more useful than reshuffling the chairs but it gets me outside. And there are guests waiting to meet me.
Thanks to E. B. White and Charlotte’s Web, I know something of the life-cycle of spiders.  Late summer/fall is their time to start new lives before their own are complete.  So dense webs and egg sacs are starting to appear in all of our corners and eaves.  Now, my husband deals with cat-hunting dogs, varmints, and rattlesnakes without ever turning a hair, but when it comes to spiders, I’m in charge. Arachnids trigger an atavistic terror in him that no therapy can assuage.  So I capture and remove the disoriented spiders that bungle their way inside and I clear away their errant webs.  This time of year, they keep me busy.  Sometimes I want to apologize for knocking down these complex, silken edifices.  An exhausted, furious arthropod probably crouches in some a corner and curses my name while I tear down all of her hard work.  If someone demolished the nursery I’d just built for 3,000 soon-to-arrive babies, I’d be boiling mad.  I wish I could tell her my intent wasn’t malevolent.  She just constructed in the pathway to our house and I hold the right of eminent domain.
We’re still a long way from the technicolor of fall and the parade of plaids that lead to Thanksgiving.  But it’s definitely on the way.  The Heralds of Autumn have spoken.

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