Fall Is Coming
September 4, 2014
I felt it last night.
It didn’t come like I’d expected, blowing down on a high pressure system out of the north. No, this came from an unexpected quarter, as the outer bands of tropical storm Dolly washed up from Mexico, the cool winds blew up from the southwest.
But I felt it.
I wrapped up work for the evening and stepped out onto the front porch.
Instead of the stifling, oven-like air that has greeted me for so many weeks, there was a coolness. It wasn’t “brisk”. Definitely not “chilly”. But cool. Mid-70s cool, which is, you know, pretty damned nice at the end of a long, Texas summer.
Dove season opened a couple of days ago, and against my better judgment, I went on out on opening afternoon. I hadn’t seen a bird move against the bright, blue sky all day. When I got out there, I knew why. My weather station told me it was 97 degrees, with a heat index in the neighborhood of 104. The humidity was so high, it felt like breathing water as Iggy and I walked across the pasture. By the time I found a place to sit, in the shade of a cedar bush, I was already soaked with sweat.
Three birds hopped up from the trees as I walked in, but in the heat they only flew 50 yards or so… just enough to stay out of range… before setting back down into a denser part of the thicket.
On a cooler day, I’d have pursued them. Then again, on a cooler day, they’d have flown much further.
Nothing else flew.
I lasted less than an hour before I said, “the hell with it,” and came back to the house.
No matter what the regulations said, it wasn’t “hunting season” yet.
Last night, though… last night gave me a hint of what’s coming.
It won’t last, of course. Even this morning, the humidity has built back in and I can tell the heat is coming back when the sun gets up. Summer is far from over.
But it gave me the first taste, and that taste aroused something that has been relatively dormant throughout the torpor of summertime.
Two weeks from today, I’ll be packing up the bow and some gear and pointing the truck toward Colorado. Somewhere in the wilderness, high above Montrose, I hope to encounter an elk. If all goes well, I’ll be driving home with a cooler full of fresh meat. And if not, I’ll still have spent a week hiking the high country. And up there, it will feel like hunting season. I’ve been watching the weather up there, at least in Montrose, where it’s been in the 70s and 80s during the day, with temperatures dropping to the mid-low 50s at night. Up in the Uncompahgre, it will be even cooler.
I expect (hope) the first of the aspens will be starting to turn. The elk will be in, or near, the rut. Bulls will be bugling through the canyons and over the ridgetops. They feel it too.
By the time I return to the Hill Country, October will be in the wings and the worst of the Texas summer heat will have receded.
Last night, that promise was carried on the wind.