Sunday, October 10, 2010

Autumn on the Bayou

Spider Lily

Autumn has arrived in southern Louisiana. We’ve had several days of cool temperatures and low humidity. Unfortunately, we’re so desperate for rain that a statewide burn ban has been issued. So much for fall campfires. Even so, the glorious fall weather is welcome after the hot, humid summer.

Country roads have become corridors that wend their way through tall green sugar cane. We took a ride down an unpaved cane field lane recently just to hear the wind blowing through the leaves.  Wind blowing through a cane field sounds like the rustling of taffeta skirts, and my vivid imagination conjures up a picture of a grand ballroom - one where Scarlett O'Hara might have danced.

October skies in our part of the world are usually a clear slate blue with no clouds at all – a contrast to our summer skies with their beautiful fluffy white clouds.

Spider lilies are putting out their orange blooms on tall stems minus any leaves. That’s the way spider lilies are – the green leaves come in the spring, the blooms in the fall.

The harvest moon made its appearance toward the end of September, rising large and silvery, early in the evening. In the old days, before my time and before modern farming equipment made harvesting fast and efficient, the farm hands could continue harvest work into the night by the light of a harvest moon.

The hay stall in our barn is stacked full of bales of fall hay. I don’t know who likes the sweet smell best – me or the horses. Probably me. I think the horses prefer spring hay because it has clover mixed in with the grasses.

I’ve just taken a stroll around the back yard. The satsuma tree is loaded with fruit, and I see that some of them are already beginning to turn from green to orange. Sweet juicy satsumas - another one of the perks of autumn.

Autumn also brings the return of the grackles - those raucous black birds whose tail feathers appear to be attached at an odd angle.  They usually arrive in large flocks, stay a day or two, and then move on to other destinations.  They're certainly not song birds.  Their repertoire of croaks and screeches makes me think of squeaking rusty hinges.  Their best feature is their irridescent feathers.  When the sun strikes them they shine in purple and green jewel tones.

For many years the sound of acorns falling on our metal roof was music to my ears.  It meant that fall was upon us - the oppresive summer heat was past.  After Hurricane Gustav in 2008, we decided to remove the oak tree that rained its acorns down our roof.  We had seen what oak trees had done to some of our neighbors' houses during the storm.  We were lucky to have escaped damage to our house, but decided a large oak just a few feet from the house was a risk we didn't want to continue to take.  It was a sad day when they cut the oak down.  During hurricane season I'm glad it's not there, but I miss it this time of year.  But when you live on the same spot of ground for forty-some years, you can't expect everything to stay the same.

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