The Fall Guy

Hands down, fall is my favorite time of year. I just wish that fall lasted a little longer in Texas.

Had I been born and raised in a different climate, this might not be the case. But, growing up in the south, the fall won my appreciation at a young age.

For those who are reading this and are sitting in a geographical location that is visited by four equal seasons every year, pat yourself on the back and say, “I am a lucky person.”

You see, in Northeast Texas, we have about eight months of hot, two months of cold, one month of kinda cold, and one month of perfect. Fall is perfect.

And here in the south, there are no seamless weather transitions like are pictured on the National Geographic Channel or on those 18-month calendars that they sell at Hobby Lobby.

No, here in Northeast Texas from March to October, we go from feeling as if we’re walking on the surface of the sun, to a slight decrease in temperature that slows the mosquitoes down just enough to where you actually have a shot at swatting them before they deflate you like a cheap helium balloon.

But, that one three-to-four week time period each year that we call fall is the absolute best time of year. The humidity drops, the temperature falls, and so do the leaves. Again, it doesn’t happen the same way that all of us see it happen in New England where the leaves slowly turn from green to an amazing kaleidoscope of purples, reds and oranges. No, here in Texas, the leaves turn brown and then all fall off within about 20 minutes of each other. It’s safest to avoid being under the trees here in the fall, lest you could become covered in a leafalanche and your family doesn’t find you until spring when the neighbor kid stops by with his rake and a box of Hefty lawn bags.

But during this short seasonal window, fall in Texas offers some of God’s most beautiful work. The dogwoods on our property begin to turn to purple, and then drop their leaves as they prepare to nod off to sleep until spring, when they’ll once again open their blooming eyes.

The pecan trees drop their months of work, providing the tasty treats we will use to make pies and other traditional holiday recipes that go to friends and family members.

Fall brings the first end-of-year opportunity to build fires. The wood stoves in our living room and shop, respectively heat each location. This time of year is also an opportunity to build bonfires and small fires for Dutch oven cooking.

The spring and summer were spent clearing dying oaks and fallen limbs. The wood that each provided were cut into sections and then split, stacked under a cover, and dried. Loads of wood have now been brought to the wood rack on the back porch and placed in a stack by the stove in the shop. All will be used. None will be wasted.

The first fires are now sizzling, with an occasional pop coming forth.

My 12-inch Lodge Dutch oven is removed from its shelf in the pantry. The ingredients for homemade chili are assembled and are simmering over an open fire by the shop. The cool, crisp air mixes with the smell of the chili, which will be paired with homemade jalapeño cornbread for dinner.

My wife stands in front of the wood stove in the house.

There are few other things that bring me more pleasure than to see my wife smiling as she warms herself in front of the wood stove. Rubbing her hands together and talking to me as she absorbs the dry heat, the simple warmth brings her joy.

The sunshine through the windows belies the cooler temperatures. It isn’t cold yet, it is just cool. But soon, it will be cold. At least as cold as it ever gets in Texas.

We won’t make it on National Geographic or one of the calendars at Hobby Lobby for our fall weather, but that’s OK. I’m happy to be a Texan. And the fall we get, is just fine with me.

©2016 John Moore

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