Monday, November 12, 2007

The Argus Observes: Near perfect fall weather

By Don Lynch

From the November 25, 1954 Argus-Observer

Fog this morning halted the beauty of a long autumn.

We always have continuous weeks of near perfect weather in the fall months. Sometimes it seems more like a late summer with the settled warmth running on and on into October. It was that way two years ago when summer never seemed to end until late October. If this tendency is too extreme, it slows beet harvesting, for the beets heat in the big piles unless it frosts at night. That October warmth of two years ago was followed by an unusually cool November with lower average minimum temperature than the mild December and January that followed it.

Sometimes autumn’s show is interspersed with rain so that the year’s most pleasant season finds it days tempered with moisture. Then autumn’s flaming color is intermittently subdued to dampened tones. That was the pattern of three yers ago, so wet indeed that some of the beets were never harvested.

This year autumn came early in the cool temperatures. And there it settled to stay almost the same for more than two solid months. When it started to frost late in September it continued at about the same pace through October and far into November. Just steady autumn temperatures slightly below freezing at night and just right for a light coat or jacket in mid-day. Ideal for harvest, perfect for living.

The dates of pheasant season marked the only noticeable breaks in this steady weather. There was one spell of wind and cold at the start of the pheasant season late in October. It was just enough to clearly handicap the hunting of the opening days and to discourage the gust hunters from out-of-Malheur. Soon the weather settled back to normal.

Rain came the last week at the end of the bird season in conditions of moisture that made it more pleasant to be in the fields.

These hours of hunting, at dawn and sunset, were the high moments of this fall’s beauty for me.
Earlier, my son, Larry, and I had hunted without much luck. Too much wind, too many conflicting activities, not enough roosters.

Then the hen season brought us out again into the tempered beauty of the fields softened by rain. We slipped out early before work and school hours began.

A few days earlier, on a dry day, we had seen the most birds in the willows and scrubby softwood trees in the draws high under the big ditch. That’s where we started, expecting it to be soaking wet in the brush. We were wrong both ways. No birds but not wet either. Although it had rained the evening before, there had been a light early morning breeze drying the branches and brush above shoe top level.

The country-side was filled with the stimulating but comfortable sensations of the season. Foft, good-feeling dirt under foot, the staid straw and red brown colors of the clover and willow stalks covering, in some places, a rich green of protected grass underneath.

We quickly hunted out the two draws at hand and moved into the fields. Our pint-sized dog, with whom hunting is strictly an avocation, found the scent on the moist ground easier than he had on the dry ground of earlier days. And then the birds were in the fields better than they had been earlier. Pretty soon we got some thoroughly satisfactory shooting.

All week the ground stayed moist for pleasant hunting conditions. As the season closed we were looking into the west at just the right angle to see a lace cloth of spider webs covering the green alfalfa stubble with all of the red and goldspendor of a November sunset for a centerpiece. I had forgotten how spiders blow in the autumn fields and spin their acres of covering webs.

Now the fog is here on schedule as it nearly always comes curing the holiday season. It, too, is beautiful for a time --- effecting in the mist distant shapes and forms unseen at other times; but let’s hope to avoid the temperature inversion that makes fog persist for days on end.

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