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Wednesday, 23 September 2015 22:46

Our view from the mountainside: First Day of Autumn

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At the very end of last year, right between Christmas and New Year's, our family was blessed to buy and move into a new house (well, new for us). For many years, my wife Deborah had hoped and prayed for an English-style Tudor house, because she finds them charming. (And since provides English tutoring, that fits.) Meanwhile, I was hoping and praying for a house way up high, with a commanding view of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. But you know, you have to actually start looking at houses to realize how difficult it is to find a Tudor house on a mountainside. There just aren't that many. But I digress.

 Upon moving in, we began to explore and enjoy our new area. Our home is on the side of a small mountain, with a view extending some 25 miles (40 km) all the way to Smith Mountain, home of the dam that created beautiful Smith Mountain Lake. From our front yard (at least in the winter when the leaves are off), we can see areas of Roanoke County, Roanoke City, Bedford County, Franklin County, and Pittsylvania County, Virginia.The neighborhood provides many quiet streets and trails suitable for walking, running, or biking. Especially fun is walking on a nearby greenway that intersects a small farm with a Civil War-era (1864) house.

An avid walker, I began enjoying the walks right away, and as a dog owner, I usually took Daisy on my daily saunters. Last February was rugged, because it was one of the coldest Februaries on record--many places here in Virginia broke all-time low records, but I still got out when I could. (I also called the local office of US Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) asking why, if the world is getting hotter and hotter, was that the coldest February on record for many places? For some odd reason, I never got an answer, but again I digress.)  Being winter, the trees (except for the evergreens) were bare, and snow lay on the ground for weeks at a time.

As the year wore on, winter grudgingly gave way to spring, and spring almost imperceptibly became summer. Somewhere along the line, while enjoying the farm animals, wildflowers, and general beauty of the region, I thought, "maybe semi-occasional blog posts about life on the mountain, and the changing seasons, might interest people, especially folks in other countries who want to learn about life in America."

So, this being the official first day of autumn ("fall" as most Americans say), I'd like to commence.

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015

One of the greatest compliments I was ever given was, "Scott, you have a real appreciation for irony." So, it's ironic and also fitting that, as I began this blog post about the arrival, I saw just feet away a fine specimen of summer: a female ruby-throated hummingbird at our hummingbird feeder. A gift from Deborah for my birthday, the feeder has attracted "hummers" all summer, and I know I will miss them when they leave, which will be soon. In fact, I was thinking of taking down the feeder so as not to tempt them to stay too long here "up North," but my concern was unnecessary--I can leave the feeder up, they will know when to leave, regardless of what I do. Still, it is fitting, that on the first day of autumn, that little hummingbird reminded me of summer--that seasons generally change more gradually and imperceptibly, unlike most of us humans, who often like the drastic change. "Throw the switch" and be done with it.

There are still many signs of summer around. A number of flowers are still blooming; just now I saw an Easter Tiger Swallowtail butterfly grabbing a snack from a flower in our yard. The mountain behind our home, other than a few tree forerunners tending to reddish, is still overwhelmingly green. Plus, it's still quite warm- 77° F, (25° C), yet it was cool this morning, 60° F (16° C). That is normal this time of year: hot days, cold nights. The two Chinese boys living with us go to school wearing hooded sweatshirts to keep warm in the morning, but have shed them by afternoon.

Still, signs of autumn sneaking in abound. Many neighbors have pumpkins and fall flowers (chrysanthemums) in their yards for decorations. The brutal heat of summer is past. And some trees, especially the Virginia state tree, the dogwood, have begun to change colors. And some day soon, the hummingbirds will least for this year.

Thank you for joining me for this reflection: the first day of autumn on the side of the mountain.

Read 21121 times Last modified on Monday, 21 August 2017 23:26
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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