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The Last Windrow: The fall season stands out as a gift to humanity

Some folks feel a certain sadness at the thought of the upcoming cooler weather, but not me.

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Photo illustration / Shutterstock.com
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The young, fork horn buck stood squarely in the middle of the road one evening last week. Its head up and staring directly into my headlights.

We've all heard the phrase "like a deer in the headlights." Well, this young buck was resembling that phrase.

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No doubt the young deer had discovered that the acorns had begun to drop from the scattered burr oak trees that grow in our front yard. Soon there will be thousands of acorns scattered amongst the now deadening grass.

The acorns will provide the needed calories not only to this young buck, but also to the ruffed grouse who somehow gulp down the hard acorns with one gulp. The black bear that frequents our place back in the woods will also be licking its chops after discovering the feast.

All of this can mean only one thing: Labor Day weekend is upon the north country, ushering in my favorite time of year - fall.

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You can have the rites of spring and you can have the heat of summer and you can have the below zero temps of winter, but fall stands out all by itself as a gift to humanity.

That includes me.

Fall on the farm meant that all the work you did throughout the warm months came to fruition in September, October and November. The seed you planted after the snow left has now grown to something to either sell or feed or eat yourself. The shorter days and cooler nights are a welcome relief to the heat and humidity of summer. A person can now relax and not fight to breathe, even while laboring heavily.

For me, as a young man, fall meant the approach of hunting season. My birthday happens in mid-October and that time coincides with the coming of pheasant season.

A boy on the farm once wished for a pair of real Irish Setter Red Wing hunting boots for his birthday. The shoe box sported a picture of a hunter standing behind a pointing Irish setter dog with a flush of a pheasant anticipated.

Somehow those boots, seen by some as too expensive to be worn on the farm, ended up wrapped in birthday paper one October day and instantly transported the thoughts in that boy to a brushy draw filled with ring-necked rooster pheasants.

Fall reminds that farm boy of that day so many years ago.

Soon the boats, kayaks and bicycles seen being toted by vehicles heading up the highway during the summer months will be replaced with trailers hauling the makings of deer stands and camouflaged duck boats. Flip flops will be replaced by heavier footwear and T-shirts will be replaced with red plaid, long-sleeved shirts. The deer will be developing a heavier coat and so will the humans that share the terrain with it.

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John Wetrosky
John Wetrosky (2022)

Some folks feel a certain sadness at the thought of the upcoming cooler weather, but not me. I will relish every colored leaf, every frosty bite to my cheek when I leave the house in the morning and that sweet, heavy aroma of the decaying leaf matter in the forestland.

Those things can only happen after Labor Day when fall is at our doorstep. Labor Day happens this weekend.

I've waited all year for this. So has that fork horned white-tailed buck that stared into my headlights just last week while munching on a mouthful of acorns.

See you next time. Okay.

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