About this time every year in the past there was a “flag” that appeared on a certain tree along the road into Two Med. It must have been hit by a truck sometime -- it overhung the road -- but it was an unremarkable leafy twig, green in a lot of green, until the back-to-school ads appeared in the newspaper. Then it turned bright yellow. It must have been somehow vulnerable to days shortening, moisture drying, or something else that kills chlorophyll. But next spring it was always leafy and green again.
This morning is smoky because of a fire behind the front range of the Rockies. The temp in my front room is barely over sixty. The newspapers are full of photos of firefighters in their Nomex shirts as yellow as that flag of leaves. And the town is strewn with the gold coins of leaves falling one by one -- round poplar leaves, precursors of the roaring gold strike of fall in the foothills.
The bears are stuffing themselves just as everyone is cleaning out their summer cabins, overwhelming the dumpsters. Spiders are doing the same as bears. The one that always lives in my pickup was teeny in spring but gets larger every day: she makes a pretty web across my driver’s side window and when I drive, she pulls down into the window well. By Labor Day she’ll be big and fat. Even now if I circle early in the morning from town out between the campground and the airport and back, the open areas will be covered with webs, silvered if there is moisture like dew.
The fire siren blew this morning, which it rarely does since the guys all wear pagers these days. It was a CRP fire (that means in fields not used for growing because of a federal subsidy that allows the owners to leave it fallow in native grasses). It was burning last night, thought to be out, and flared when wind came up this morning. This time of year there are often harvest fires from machinery or from striking sparks off stones. And the radio in some places will be reminding ranch wives to put plastic ziplocks and coolers of ice in the trucks in case of accidental amputations. The machinery can rip a person apart in a flash.
Then there are the lightning flashes. The Baptist Church next door with its new metal roof seems to have been hit by lightning -- that’s what I thought. The bonger has been quiet but was jubilating again last night, so maybe it’s only reset. A tree a block away was lightning-ripped from top to bottom but didn’t burn.
Snow will fly in a few weeks and we’ll welcome it.