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Waning Summer

By Ann Driggers

A splash of yellow in the riverside cottonwoods, a tinge of burnt orange in the oak brush on the hillsides, and bushes laden with berries dot the meadows of brittle, golden grass. Summer is on the wane, noticeably by the day. Just a week ago we were enjoying the last of the flowers in the high alpine, the grass a bright green and the lakes a shimmering blue.

Now the blue skies of early morning are quickly overtaken by towering thunderheads and sultry afternoons. Gunpowder skies produce cold rain and a dusting of snow has been sighted on the loftiest peaks. In the late evening hours there is a slight nip in the air and post mountain bike ride tailgating requires a puffy for warmth.  High in the mountains the first frost has arrived. The big leaves of skunk cabbage are burnt brown and black, twisting and falling down towards the earth. Most remaining blooms are more than ragged around the edges, save the fireweed, its vibrant purple so dominant at this time of year.

I wander the forests hunting for mushrooms still, but the season has passed its peak and my bounty becomes less each day. The berries are coming in and that is where I will turn my attention now.

 

At home racks are lined up in the laundry room drying the fruits of my foraging, to be savored in a stew on a dark winters night.  Talk of buying an air conditioning unit has been dropped as quickly as the temperatures at nightfall. Meal prep begins with an expedition into the jungle aka vegetable garden, to select produce most ripe for the picking - cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets, peas, salad, herbs, chard, kale, kale and more kale. Kale for breakfast, kale for lunch, kale for dinner. I'm turning green! But enjoying it while I can - fall is just around the corner and summer will shortly be shut down for good.

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