Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Fall is fast approaching, and through some innate intuition (or, perhaps, because the trees are turning brown, the days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting colder—and because the weatherman and the calendar say so) I can sense the impending season.

This also means that an inexplicable and unavoidable humor change accompanies the shift in temperature. The other day I shuddered from a bad case of the chills and drew myself up tight inside my warm hoodie, thinking that I was coming down with a cold or swine flu, until I realized that the cause of my suffering was entirely external and environmental. The sky was gray; the air was gray; the mood was gray. Fat droplets of foggy mist condensed on every available surface and the ground was soggy; the roads slick. I was irritable and depressed with no good reason, the ill medieval vapors apparently possessing my subconscious. Even the realization of this fact did little to improve my foul mood.

The horses, however, are affected quite differently. Despite a relatively mild summer, they still welcome the cooler shift from hot days. Last week a front came through, bringing with it wild breezes, dark clouds, and torrential rains that flooded the creeks, washed out the roads, shut down traffic and left me confined to my home, unable to pass over the bridges which roiled with dark frothy river water. Before the storm arrived, however, the horses sensed the impending event and perked up, excited. They charged and reeled in the mud, galloping madly from one end of the pasture to the other, bucking and rearing and wheeling like colts. Even Rebel, my retired cripple who generally hobbles pitifully despite a plethora of pain meds, decided to get in on the action and loped about, carrying his head and tail regally like the great horse he once was.

I laughed and watched them play for a while, their antics effectively brightening my mood. Lather, though, as the storm hit and all-too-close flashes of electricity split the sky, I was less than impressed. The rain was pouring down (four inches in as many hours) and I dashed about through the field trying to lure the horses in so they wouldn’t get struck by lightning. This, of course, entailed putting myself at risk as I stomped and slid in the standing water, brandishing a bucket of grain and a leadrope, begging the disgruntled sopping ponies to follow me to safety. They wouldn’t budge except to avoid my grasp, and then they’d return to their standard head-drooping, butt-to-wind posture. Then a bolt struck the ground not a few hundred yards away with a sickening crack, we all jumped and spooked, and I retreated to the safety of the barn post haste.

[This reminds me of the only time in my memory when I can recall truly being scared for my life. It was a night with a storm of twice this magnitude, with wild flashes of bright branching bolts illuminating the inky sky at frequent intervals. The rain was falling so fiercely that all other sounds were drowned out save for the loud crashes and deep rumblings of thunder. Again, I stupidly ran out, blind in the blackness, attempting to jingle in the scared horses. Lightning flashed all around me, but I had made it nearly all the way to my destination when a particularly violent and close bolt pierced the sky, accompanied by an ear-splitting boom and then nothing. The light in the barn I had been using to guide my path was gone (I later learned that the power was out) and I had never felt so vulnerable as in that moment. I was certain that I would be struck and killed, but still I managed to turn and run back to safety, so petrified that I collapsed when I arrived and was nearly sick. Yeah, so not doing that again.]

Well, eventually things calmed down, the rain stopped, crews were able to repair the roads, and the sun came out to dry the earth. Soon the sugar maple trees on Drury’s campus will turn their brilliant shades of red and orange, and then fall, and then we’ll settle in for another winter—and perhaps hibernate in our winter lethargy until spring.


secret agent woman said...

I know the cooler air is invigorating and the fall colors beautiful, but I already miss summer.

Mozart said...

I hate the heat, but I hate the cold even more. I'll take one week of summer and one week of snow a year, please--let the rest be spring and fall.