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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall, kind of

Today was a... good day. A very good one. I know many other Casperites would not consider a day that took turns spitting at them then showing sunny skies while trying to blow their clothing about their heads before torrential rains in said wind soaked them and buffeted them on their way home before clearing and showing them the dusting of snow on the mountain to be particularly good. Forgive me, I'm a twisted Casperite. Maybe better described as a South Central Alaskan. For there any fall day that the sun shown and one can get out and smell the fall leaves is a very good day indeed.

And that is what today reminded me of. As I strolled with my pack of mutts, I kept getting whiffs of something that almost, almost to the point of making me home sick smelled of home. You see, autumn back home is one of my favorite seasons. Granted, it's a short one. On a bad year it can last about, well, about three days. One night you get a good frost, the next day you start getting golden leaves, and two days later a good rain knocks them all from the trees and it's winter. But on a good year, you have cold nights that change the leaves but warm days that are a pleasure to wander the trails amid. And the nights frost ripens the low bush cranberries and they fill the air with their musky, tangy, wonderful scent. There's an aroma memory there for me that always equates that smell with sunny crisply blue skied days. Ahhhh... Many east coasters lament that we truly only have gold and yellow autumnal foliage in Alaska but that is simply not true. Granted, yes most of our trees only have those two colors, but much of the imported mountain ashes have a gold thats blushed with reds. But if one gets above the tree line before the snows fall, climb into the Chugach along the Huffman trail basin or the Williwaw loop you get to see the most amazing scarlet's and reds that the crow berries and the low bush blueberries create. Mixed in with the deep greens of the scrub hemlock and the orange and golds of the labrador and it's like a flora patchwork of ground covers that rival any New England autumn.
Even on a good year, autumn is a quick season. Maybe two weeks worth of it's dazzling glory before the foliage is gone, the berries have either been eaten by bears before going to ground or fallen to the soil below to re-seed next year. If you're unlucky enough to have one of falls substantial wet heavy snows before the leaves fall it's also the time of year for power outages as snow laden limbs take down lines. It too, is the season of the moose. No longer hidden by the foliage they become more apparent even in urban areas as they traverse the green belts and raid back yards of the last of the summers plant growth. I feel as though many of them have hunting season figured out and wander down out of the mountains and take up fall foraging where the hunters can't shoot.

As we watched the rain storm sweep closer I caught that smell again. The smell of wet yellow cottonwood leaves and rain. All it was missing was that musky tang of cranberries and it would have been home.

After we got in from the rain I decided to replace the batch of quick cook brownies that Bob made last night form a box. As I was slowly coming awake this morning I heard a ruckus in the kitchen and had found that a four legged mammal of still unknown species or name had raided them. There are two possible culprits. The dog that had taken himself to the crate (most likely) and the cat that tried to innocently clean her paws in the window seat (second most like accomplice). The old girl who would be my other guess what out cold by the front door. In her old age she's going deaf and was oblivious to the whole shindig (Truly, she's not that good of an actress, though she can be very dramatic). The other two boys were in the living room on the couches awaiting judgment but otherwise not acting the guilty party. You would think that the Great Dane who at a standing position can easily rest his head on the counter or look down at our table would be the bigger issue, but oh no... It's the border collie mix that seems to have food thieving propensities.

As the smell of fresh homemade (that's right, I made homemade brownies with a touch of cinnamon and chilli pepper even, no box mix for me) brownies filled the air I began the next set of socks. I now have three done and am starting on the fourth. The two for the remotest ranch that Bob will be visiting this weekend with his parents before the weather moves in for the winter are done. Next I will be attacking the three pair for the Alaska box. I want to make sure I get everything mailed home for Christmas so that perhaps this year everyone will have presents at Christmas. Fingers crossed on that one. Then I'll attack the remaining pairs that will be here for Christmas. Then perhaps, just perhaps, I'll get to work on the sweater for me I keep putting off in favor of projects for others, Once again, fingers and toes crossed.

I hope you all have a great week. I'm off to pop in a movie and make a valiant attempt at staying up late so I can return to work tomorrow night revived, refreshed and ready to tackle a new week. Truly, there was no sarcasm there. Well, not purposeful anyway.

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