I can hardly remember a more mild or beautiful Fall. I suppose that isn't saying much, considering this was only my second Fall in the Sandhills over the last 12 years. But I'm not the only one who thought so. The leaves actually had a chance to change colors before freezing off the trees and there were plenty of gorgeous days for doing the work of getting ready for winter. (Mowing up the leaves one last time, clearing the garden, draining the hoses, putting on the storm windows, and the like.)
A few days before Thanksgiving, the days were still climbing into the 60s. I went out to the Bay Area to eat turkey with friends and the frosty mornings out there (where there is no heat, and little insulation) were a shock to my system. But as soon as I stepped out of the airport into the dark South Dakota night, I knew that Winter had finally arrived. And I was ready for it.
We had our first snow earlier this week, wet and heavy, but less than an inch. A freak warm front hoovered around on Tuesday and melted it all. And now it is just cold - freezing, plus or minus 5 degrees during the day, dipping close to zero in the night. Crunchy grass in the morning, and white frosted trees.
All the cats have the sniffles, just a cold most likely. Luckily for them, George built a pretty fancy cat house over Thanksgiving. It's more like a 'cat condo' actually - two stories, fully insulated, with a porch on two sides and two entry/exit points. I just finished setting it up - it was fun to watch them discover it.
It is a quiet time on the ranch. It's not just less busy...there are less noises. Animals are going into hibernation-mode, birds are flying south or settling in, and the way that soundwaves travel in this cool air...I swear it is different. It seems to me that sound carries further when it is cold, but at the same time the small sounds are somehow muffled (or perhaps just not there?). The result is a sound landscape that is stark. unsettling. and beautiful.
This afternoon's thick fog has finally grown heavy and a few moments ago, it started to snow.