Thursday, November 3, 2011

autumn in the flathead valley

This is my first fall in Montana and I am loving it.  The air is beginning to get a bit of bite to it, especially in the early morning and at night, but it is still warm enough to play outside or walk during the day.  And by afternoon, I start taking my sweater off and turning down the heat. 

Here in Montana, we get a full and beautiful fall.  It started in September as the trees turned brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow and brown.  They slowly fell to the ground and on a windy day, it was as if it were raining leaves outside.  The smell of wet leaves, smoke caught in the breeze, and clear blue skies with October sun shining down.  The Tamarack pines carpeting the mountainside turned golden in the autumn cold before their pine needles shed for the winter.  The splendid beauty of autumn is everywhere.

The locals are caught up in hunting fever these days; men and even whole families routinely take off for days to weeks at a time in search of meat to stock their freezers with for winter.  Elk is a big draw and I already have 4 pounds of ground elk in my freezer, due to the generosity of someone at church.  (In fact, elk was my very first meal as a resident of Montana.)  The downside to this hunting frenzy is that grizzly bear attacks are on the rise in remote places.  The bears will soon settle in for winter and when their hungry stomachs meet hunters with fresh carcasses, it can be a bad combination.  Most people do fine, however, and most eat what they kill.  Montanans are self-reliant.

I won't be taking up hunting any time soon, but I will be embracing the beauty of autumn in this most beautiful of places.  It's the time for homemade soup and bread, for apple pie and baked apples.  It's the time for fireplaces and crackling logs and snuggles on the couch.  It's the time for toddler's bright pink cheeks as she jumps into a pile of leaves.  It's the time for going to plays at the local theatre.  It's the time for being quiet and reading a good book.  It's the time for baking pumpkin cream cheese muffins with spiced crumb topping.  It's autumn time in the Flathead Valley and I for one am loving it.

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