Red barn. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014
By Bruce Stambaugh
Low, thick rain clouds dampened any chance for a pastel sunrise. Overnight, a steady rain silently soothed the dry Ohio countryside.
The precipitation continued on the backside of a cold front that had passed before dawn. No one in the family restaurant when I met a friend for breakfast grumbled about the morning’s sogginess.
White-breasted Nuthatch. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.
With the rain and accompanying breeze, golden leaves tumbled down everywhere, sticking precisely where they fell, manicured yards, glassy roadways, muddied farm yards.
The polka dotted landscapes complemented the already picturesque scenery. You would think that red, yellow, crimson and orange spots on green and brown foregrounds would color clash with the soft leafy linear swaths of the rainbow backgrounds. But they didn’t.
One needn’t go out into the mushy elements to inhale the dampened beauty. Leaves cascaded diagonally outside eight-paned rectangles creating natural kaleidoscopes. Out of sight far beyond the windows, a Pileated Woodpecker squawked.
Blue and gray. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.
By noon, the rain transitioned to intermittent drizzles. A strengthening sun burned occasional breaks into the misty layers. Glimpses of indigo broke through the unstable gray breeches.
The precipitation regrouped, however, and quickly closed ranks, healing the cracks in the overcast. The quenching rainfall continued off and on the rest of the day.
Strong southerly breezes kept the temperatures tolerable, enough so that windows still stood partially opened to catch what could be the last of autumn’s real warmth. Even when the air chilled in early afternoon and clouds continued the gloominess, fall’s vivid colors boldly splashed bright beauty.
The entire situation seemed improbable, if not impossible. The grayness continued, but the colors radiated as if the dullness invigorated them. Decorative pumpkins glowed more orange. Burgundy mums became potted beacons, like so many buoys, and we were nowhere near a harbor.
Acres of field corn, once rolling waves in emerald oceans, now stood brittle dry and tan, mimicking sandy beaches awaiting high tide. It didn’t rain that much.
Cornfield. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.
Life in Holmes County, Ohio continued unabated by either the showers or the splendor. Traffic actually appeared heavier than normal, both on the highways and at the bird feeders.
Commerce bustled. White-breasted Nuthatches scurried headfirst down a sugar maple’s crackled trunk, hopped to the feeder, and back to the tree satisfied. Blue Jay acorn wars ensued with flashes of blue and clarion victory calls amplified by the dampness.
Nightfall came even sooner than it should have. The persistent cloud deck manufactured more rain. With colder days too soon ahead, any farmer will tell you that it is much better to have the ground well moistened before it freezes.
With no prior killing frosts before this day, I didn’t want to even think that way. But I knew the farmers were right. The rains were welcomed.
It was only one day out of many such fall days. Yet the wet weather, the peeks of sunshine, the brilliant colors, and the lushness of the yards and pastures for this late in the season became a compilation of the cyclical suite we call autumn.
My choice would have been a wind still day filled with fluffy clouds sailing through cobalt skies, a bike ride in short sleeves or a walk in the woods, binoculars and camera in tow. Fortunately, the weather is not yet under human control.
Like my farmer friends love to say, “We’ll take what comes.” It’s what we did, and I was more than grateful to be able to do so.
Gold and red. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014