Hard to believe the fall season is already a week old. It hasn’t felt a lot like fall – except for a day or so a couple of weeks back or maybe three.
It was partly sunny, but the clouds weren’t the kind we get with the monsoon, they looked more like the start of a winter storm. What really gave it that fall feeling though was the wind – a breeze really, cool and caressing.
While it was just a tease of a turn in the weather it made me alert for the truer signs of a change in the season.
Leaves haven’t actually started turning here yet, but they aren’t as “upright” as they were through summer, they’re sagging a bit and the green is starting to fade some.
I overheard a couple of guys talking about where they’d been drawn for the fall hunt and they both said they’d started hearing the elk bugling. I think I may have heard a bit of that myself recently – can’t recall if it were early morning or of an evening. It was still and gray and the sound seemed to come from some distance, perhaps over a hill or two.
I live in a part of town that is higher up, not far from the airport. Across the road is still a stand of the forest – junipers mostly, the shaggy bark kind, with an alligator bark here and there and some that look more like what they call cedars back in Oklahoma, which is where several generations of my family is from.
My front and back yards have nearly a dozen of the shaggy bark junipers and someone also planted landscape junipers in front of the porch. They have grown so well – with absolutely no attention – that I can sit in one of my Adirondack lawn chairs on the porch and be hidden from view.
I have not seen elk in the exact vicinity of my home, but have had the good fortune to see both elk and deer perhaps a mile or two in either direction where the roads pass through unpopulated areas.
There are quail – though not too many this year – and all kinds of other birds. Probably my favorites are the hummingbirds and the doves (I think they’re called collared doves). The hummers only occasionally come around, but the doves are permanent residents. They fly out of the trees in the backyard and perch on the power lines and coo to one another quite a lot.
From time to time, the javelina come round and less often so do skunks.
That has to be one of the great things about living in Payson – we can drive less than a mile in most cases and be in near wilderness, and seeing the birds and wildlife, we remember we share the place with many a different neighbor.
That keeps me grounded and gives me a feeling of connectedness with the universe.