• jamesbriankerr

Peaceable Man Files Issue #18: Jumping Into Fall

Random musings on my gypsy existence at my cabin in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania and wherever else life takes me.


After spending a wonderful week in Maine and then a lovely week hanging with Rachael at her house in Harleysville, I made it back to the cabin this past week and found a landscape in transition.


Fall is coming. I can smell it in the air, feel it in the cooling temperatures, see it in the leaves already starting to turn. The growing season runs shorter up here in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Spring arrives a week or two later than it does down south, and winter arrives earlier and runs a couple weeks longer.


I don’t mind—being a lowland Scot by heritage, I love the cooler temperatures. No more shorts and tee-shirts—I wear jeans and a hoodie for my early morning walk around the property with my German Shorthair Pointer Cassie. No more need for the air conditioner during the day either. I open the doors and windows and let in that wonderful fallish air in. I’m even finding myself reaching for the blanket at night while watching the new J.R.R. Tolkien “The Rings of Power” series on Prime Video. (Yeah, I’m a big Lord of the Rings fan.)


I sense an urgency among the animals to fatten up before winter arrives. The deer are having a field day (literally) chomping on the farmer’s field corn, knocking down stalks to get at the golden corn. Cassie and I even ran into a couple bears one morning feasting on the corn. (No worries—the bears took off as soon as they got

a whiff of us.)


Even the squirrels are getting into the action. I see them darting out of the downed corn as the dog and I make our daily rounds around the field. Cassie doesn’t understand it. Aren’t those things supposed to be up in trees?


I could never live in a region where there are not definable seasons to the year. I just love the variety of the seasons and the different sights, smells, and sounds each season brings us. Even winter brings its stark, simple beauties. Spring and summer bring bounty and surfeit; fall and winter bring an opportunity to purge and cleanse. It’s all healthy, it’s all good for the soul.


But my favorite season has always been the fall. My mother says it’s because I was born in the fall, on a chilly November evening when she and my father were having dinner at my grandmother’s house. That night my Gram had cooked up a wild game meal of hasenpfeffer, which is basically a stew of rabbit and onions cooked in vinegar and red wine. My mother went into labor, and a few hours later I came into the world with the blood of the wild running through my veins.


I come alive when the cooler air of fall arrives. My energy level rises. I’m more productive. The doldrums of wading through day after day of humidity are gone and I feel ready to jump into whatever tasks await me. Maybe, like the deer and bear, I’m being spurred by a deep-down, ancestral need to prepare for what’s ahead. Maybe it’s the vinegar and wild rabbit in my blood. Maybe it’s the arrival of football or pumpkin spice coffee at the local Wawa.


Whatever it is, I’m pumped, and so is Cassie. After chasing the squirrels out of the corn this morning, she came back and did a zoomie around the house.


Ah, those crisp autumn mornings, frost on the ground, the trees dressed in their autumn colors.


Come, fall—I’m ready for you!


***


If you plan to be in the Sellersville, PA area this coming Thursday, September 15, please stop by the Next Chapter Bookstore on Main Street in Sellersville between 7-8:30 p.m. for a special evening.


I’ll be there along with the owner of the bookstore, Helen Ward, and her daughter Jess. The mother-daughter team run the women-owned bookstore, which Helen took over in 2021 after thirty years as a teacher. It had always been Helen’s dream to run a bookstore, and following the recent loss of her husband, she decided to take the plunge and do it—hence the name “Next Chapter.”


The bookstore is just lovely. We’ll have refreshments, door prizes, and (of course) copies of The Long Walk Home (no shipping!). Afterward, we’ll walk across the street to the Washington House for a nightcap. Should be fun!

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