Winter is coming to The Ranch.
The winds are blowing almost incessantly now, harbingers of the rain that is supposed to start later this week. They rip through the trees, dappling the ground with moving shadows that dance back and forth in random patterns which almost appear to be in sync with some unheard music.
The oaks have started their annual shutdown, dropping acorns and preparing to shed leaves as the squirrels hurry about, trying to pack in the last little bit before it becomes too cold and wet to be out during the day. Most of the birds have disappeared as well, fleeing to southern climes warmer more to their liking.
Everything is still painfully brown and dry here, as it always is at this time of year, as the rains have not been frequent enough to start the greening process. If the forecasters are right, there may be enough to start the process by the time I leave for New Home. Which would be a welcome and wonderful change from the last 4 months or so.
The non-natives my father planted - the walnut and apple and Japanese Maple - are shedding their leaves as well. For the walnut and apple their fruits are long gone, taken off by the squirrels or birds on their way South and then finished off on the ground by whomever happened to be passing by. Once again, the squirrels have beat me to the walnuts.
I hauled another load or two of wood to the porch, anticipating the coming rain and falling temperatures. There is no meaningful reason for me to do this, of course: the house has propane heat and it will not get so cold that I need a fire. But a fire for me, at this stage, is a luxury: something that I get to do, not something I have to do. And five days of a fire will hardly put a dent in the wood that is here. Frankly, it is not as if anyone else is using the wood at this stage.
There are a few more things to do before the house effectively goes into Winter mode. I should probably disconnect the automatic waterers that have kept the roses, camellia, and lavender bushes alive during the summer, but I want to make sure it actually rains before I do it. The hose bibs are all wrapped. I will set the heat on low in the house to keep things from freezing, although that is not really a danger this late into Autumn/early into Winter.
It strikes me, as I look out the window and watch the dry grasses bend over in the rain-bearing wind which pummels them into the ground, that it captures my mood entirely: feeling parched and dry, waiting for the life-giving rain to start the annual process of renewal.
The sunlight, sinking a little more quickly every day, nudges me that if I have anything else to do, I had best be about it before it too abandons the horizon, leaving us to the darkness of the night and rain. I go before the daylight completely escapes my grasp.