Thursday, September 03, 2015

Start of Autumn

Autumn is just about here, and it's not fooling around. We could here it roaring in the distance this last Saturday, when a sudden storm blew in with gusts in the 50 mph range. It's been so bone dry, with only a couple of real rains all summer, that the Puget Sound area looks more like southeast Oregon than its usual perpetually verdant self. The trees, in an act of self preservation, went into drought crisis mode and shunted what little moisture they had to their trunks. This left the branches dry...and brittle. You can guess what happened when that gale blew in.

We were across the bay in Port Gamble on Saturday, where History Pundit Spouse was giving his Historical Firearms talk at their first annual Steampunk Festival. It's a perfect place for something like that, it being a mid-19th century logging mill town frozen in time, one of the last real mill (company owned) towns in the country. Our "lecture hall" was the parlor of the Walker-Ames mansion, a magnificent pile in need of restoration but still in good enough shape for the occasional ghost walk or Steampunk convention. As I ran the Power Point for Gordon, I could look over his shoulder and see huge swells rolling northward up the bay, driven by the constant south wind. The power only flickered once (yay!) during the talk, in the wake of a massive gust that shook the house, and caused the projector to re-boot, but we made it.

A spot of tea sounded delightful, so we packed up our gear and repaired across the street to meet friends at the Tea Shop...and the whole town went down. The thoughtful chef bagged up some scones, jam, cream and lemon curd for us to take home. Stopping to chat with the fabricator of a spectacular Steampunk armored car, we snapped some photos and then noticed the power was back...so it was back to the tea shop for us! Many goodies and a veritable cask of Monkey Snow Plum tea later, we finally turned home.

The many, many downed trees and large branches we passed did not bode well, and sure enough our power was out when we pulled in to ye farm. Our one mechanical clock indicated it had gone out at almost precisely noon, which was about when we'd felt that giant gust across the bay in Port Gamble. We heat with wood, a stove we can cook on if necessary and the weather's cold enough to warrant stoking it, we have plenty of oil lamps and candles, but what we do not have is a water tower or hand pump for the well. When the power's out, we have no water. Luckily it was raining and the rain buckets and barrels were full, but it's still a pain when you're trying to get water to horses, chickens, and, most importantly, the toilet.

Apparently around 500,000 people were without power in the area. Yeah, Fall is pretty much here. It took three days and a couple of phone calls to get our power restored. Having no electricity delayed our already bumped episode of the History Files podcast. It also meant I wasn't able to start the detox/cleanse/healing diet I'd been longing to start the minute PAX was done, but it wasn't exactly a crisis.

The weather, despite the occasional thunderstorm, is actually pretty mild right now. I love this time of year and always have. I love going barefoot in warm weather, but I also love pulling on fluffy socks and wearing lots of loose layers. Fall means notebooks, pencils, art supplies, new clothes... ok, those are childhood happy memories, but Fall still means the smell of maple leaves, wood smoke, seeing your breath in the morning air, birthdays (for me and my sister), and the thrill of coming up with a costume for Halloween. The cats are growing their winter coats and are already starting to look fuzzy instead of svelte and shiny. The chickens are slowing down their laying, and the grass is greening back up after looking like the Sahara for months. I have a pile of apples to process in the kitchen, blackberries in the freezer to make something with, and the squash will be ready to start eating soon. I love this time of year.

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