Opinion: Thank God summer is over
WHY WE LIVE HERE
Free Press Opinion Columnist
Summer is a free for all. A total abandonment of schedules and routine. Especially for dual working families like mine, who try to cram all the activity we can around our workday. There are still four hours of daylight left when the normal workday ends and we make the most of it, walking down to Connected Lakes to fish, getting out to run or bike after the mid-day temps cool a bit, packing the car on a Friday afternoon to head into the mountains to camp, or simply hanging out in the backyard with friends around the grill until darkness falls.
There’s no bedtime or early wake up. It’s chaos and it’s nice … for a little while. But I could never survive in one of those equatorial places where the seasons never change. I like the natural cycle of four seasons. Who wants to mow their lawn year round?
Fall is structure. The days get shorter and the nights begin to cool. Even in our pampered 2014 lives, we make preparations for winter. We put the garden boxes to bed, restock the wood pile, and put away all the outdoor furniture. The menus evolve from lighter fare to stews, soups, and chili.
My husband was lucky early this year during archery season and, as a result, we have a freezer full of elk meat to last us through the coming year.
I pull out and season my cast-iron Dutch oven and it takes center stage on the stove top.
We count the days until the irrigation water is turned off and blow out the sprinkler system — while trying to figure out exactly when to winterize the swamp cooler.
I pull out the boxes of winter clothes and happily don long sleeves and sweaters each cool, crisp morning only to peel them off by the hot afternoons. The temperatures swing wildly from 40-degree nights to 80-degree afternoons; and the only way to get through the day in a single outfit is by perfecting the art of layering.
School is back in session, festival season is over, and I get back to cooking meals. I love the routine of it, especially the evenings when I pick up the kids and we settle into an evening of homework, dinner and baths; and I hope to soon be sitting around the wood stove.
Our recreation changes as well. Entire trips are planned to see the colors change — what a great concept! A vacation that revolves around simply viewing the aspens, a rarity in Colorado families whose vacations are usually so action-packed. We take advantage of locals deals to soak in Ouray and sightsee in Aspen when the tourists are elsewhere and rates are affordable.
Menus across the valley evolve as heartier vegetables replace those intolerant to the cold nights. The Grand Junction Farmers Market ends, but the Fall Produce Market begins — and it fits perfectly into our suddenly busy schedules. We no longer have long evenings to wander down Main Street enjoying the entertainment and meet up with friends. Instead, we focus on doing our shopping quickly, so the location of the market next to the downtown parking garage (on the corner of Fourth Street and Rood Avenue) is easily accessible … and it’s all business.
My running begins to fall off since I would rather spend cold mornings drinking coffee and reading the paper, but I rationalize it by telling myself that it’s a good, natural cycle for my body to cut back on the miles. And aren’t we supposed to pack on a few extra pounds to keep us warm in the winter? I just can’t resist zucchini bread.
Luckily winter is coming to get me off my butt and outside again. I grew up on the East Coast where winters were brutal; where fall really was about enjoying the last temperate days of the year before being housebound for months on end. Humidity made 40 degrees feel like 30, and ice storms could knock out power for days. Out here in western Colorado, winter is a totally different animal. A lack of humidity makes 30 feel like 40 and the 300 days each year means winter can be a lot like summer — only instead of swimming in the water, we are floating over the water on skis, snowboards, and snow shoes.
Autumn (sounds so much nicer than fall) is a welcomed break for those of us who spend our days outdoors. We buy our ski passes, continue to covet those K2s that we can’t quite bring ourselves to buy, and start perusing the websites of our favorite ski resorts for deals, events, and snowfall predictions.
I’m enjoying every bit of it. It’s why we live here.
Robin Brown hopes to catch you at the Fall Produce Market every Thursday in October from 3-6:30 at Fourth and Rood. Otherwise, you can celebrate Fall at West Slope Supper Club’s Field to Fork Hoe Down scheduled for Oct. 19 in Palisade. Check out http://www.westslopesupperclub.com for more information. Email Robin with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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