Smith: Editor’s notebook

Autumn sneaks in slowly and subtly to North Texas. One October day it’s 95 degrees in mid-afternoon, but just after dinner, you step outside and notice a breeze blowing in and just a hint of a nip in the air.

By early morning you’re reaching for the comforter at the foot of the bed and wake up to temperatures in the low 40s.

All this occurs without a leaf turning from the deep green they’ve been all summer long. My Bradford pear trees are still the deep emerald color they were in May and it’s already late October.

I just made a drive to Waxahachie, about a half-hour south of Dallas down I-35E. I took a farm-to-market road west over to Maypearl and through ten or 20 miles of farm country, and out to I-35W and back up through Fort Worth and home to Denton.

About the only signals apparent that fall had arrived, other than the orange signs for pumpkins and the occasional advertisement for a haunted house to benefit local charities, were the harvested fields, showing that rich black soil endemic to this region, with amber chunks of corn or grain sorghum stalks poking through to break up the sameness of the scene.

Trees down that way also remain green.

But it was a pleasant, cool day. Temperatures didn’t pop 60 until early afternoon. Pastures were green; a few wheat fields showed newly emerged seedlings; stock tanks, though still far from filled, provided some sustenance to thirsty cattle.

Cool weather has been the norm for the past few days, except for a random afternoon when the thermometer pushed past the 90-degree mark, just to show us it still could. I’ve fired up the gas logs in the fireplace once or twice already, just enough to drive the chill out of the room without having to turn on the furnace. I have a rule about furnaces. No one turns them on until at least November 1. I’ve had that rule for more than 25 years and this may be the first time that no one breaks it. If we can just get by another few days, we can save a bit of natural gas.

I stopped watering the grass a week or two ago but it’s still growing enough to require weekly cuttings. The flowerbeds are leggy and unkempt and I almost mowed over a praying mantis last week that looked big enough to eat a sparrow. I never see them that big until autumn.

I guess I’d better haul out my sweaters.

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