This time of year is always hard for me.The mornings hold the promise of autumn in their brisk chill, but (apply dramatic martyr voice here) how quickly the sun burns those hopes away! It's hot. It's dry. And by the end of August in Montana, the valleys all hold the swirling smoke of a half-dozen wildland fires; a sooty haze that only intensifies the heat.
Water has become our refuge.
Last week, before the smoke set in too heavily in our town, we spent two days at one of our favorite little mountain beaches; a spot on the Bitterroot river where a marsh-willow covered sometimes-island splits the current and, on one side, the water slows to a kid-friendly pace.
There's something about rivers that speaks of stillness and omni-presence to me, despite the constant motion of the water's flow and gradual change of it's path.
To quote Norman Maclean:"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters."
A couple of days later, we found ourselves hiking in the Bitterroot Mountains, alongside a body of water with a different kind of voice: a cold and rushing, change-is-coming voice.
The voice of a mountain creek.
We stripped our feet bare and washed the summer dust away, wading into the water deep enough to let the icy water redden our skin and nearly numb our legs with cold. Then we sat on the rocks in the sun for awhile, warming up just enough to want to do it again.
This week, however, the smoke arrived. Bringing with it itchy eyes and sore throats and leaving a much-anticipated-but-now-cancelled camping trip in its wake.
I can't wait for fall. I want an excuse to wear sweaters and boots, eat soup (lots of soup!), and every morning, wake up and open the door- if for no other reason than to breathe in the cooling earth and clean sky.
Until then, I suppose, we will just have to hunker down in our (thankfully) air-conditioned digs and make plans that involve knee-socks, leaf piles, and copious amounts of apple pie.
What part of fall are you most looking forward to?