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Autumn is here

The year 2010 has been a fairly good one weatherwise. Maybe a little more snow than some would have wanted. A little flood water when we didn’t need it, and a bit of thunder and lightning. But all in all, one would have to say the weather man has been goof to most of us. We can’t make the claim that our neighboring state to the north makes about being almost heaven, but we are mighty close.
There is one thing I am sure of though, you can look back as far as you please, and won’t find a time when the autumn season of the year in our area was not very close to perfect. Frost is not on the pumpkin quite yet, but it won’t be long. Corn is in the shock, October beans have been canned or frozen, potatoes dug and stored away for winter, green tomatoes still clinging to the vines, hanging in the cellar to ripen in their un-natural environment
Leaves of many trees are breaking loose at the least breeze, and twirling , floating, sailing to the earth. There they will be cursed by some as pests and admired by others because of their beautiful colors and accepting them as nature’s winter quilt ; a good example of the old adage that what is one man’s trash is another’s is treasure.
Walnuts and hickory nuts are continuing to fall, waiting to stain gleaner’s hands and the opportunity to flavor Christmas goodies. And the crimson comb of the sumac tree reaches high showing the world its color. Tiny seed from the dried, burst milkweed are blowing in the wind like little parachutes seeking a place to hide until spring. The last dried stems of the daffodils and iris topple to the earth to repay the strength they took.
Squirrels are fat and their fur a thick and rich gray, along with grouse and wild turkeys move about through the forest foraging for morsels of food. Dogwood trees, months earlier white with bloom, now are laden with rich red berries. Yes we have to admit that the past winter was rough, the spring cool and wet, and part of the summer unpleasant, while droughts plagued some and flood waters came to others, That’s all passed Adversity sometimes comes to us in order for us to really enjoy the good things
Fall’s skies seem bluer, and it’s waters cooler, it’s sunsets more colorful. And there is a warmness in the daytime that reassures us that the cool nights are not really winter, but tougheners to prepare our bodies for what may come. The aroma of fall is a little different because of the ripeness of all of nature, and I think it gives us extra strength with which to dive into the winter.
There is a new spring in the walk of people, as they wade through mounds of multicolored leaves in search of wild game, and nowhere in the world is that new energy more evident than in the mountains and valleys of our beautiful New River Valley.

- Lloyd Mathews is retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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