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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Autumn in the High Desert

This is such a wonderful time of year in the Southwest. The high desert heat has given way to mild days and very chilly nights. The New Mexico sky is a crisp blue, and the aspens and cottonwoods are bedecked in beautiful golden leaves.

Fall is usually brief in this arid, high-desert land, and the transition between summer and winter often passes in a few short weeks. This makes appreciating this special time of year all the more important. I dread the cold and darkness of winter, so I try to savor this time of year as much as possible.

This is the season for homemade soups, stews and chili. It's the season for flannel sheets, fleece jackets and sweatshirts in the early morning, and for long pants after months of wearing shorts. It is time to relish being outside, knowing that the howling winds and frigid temperatures aren't far away. One of my favorite things about fall is the ability to leave a bedroom window open at night. I love the feeling of cool air in the room, while I snuggle in my bed, warmed by flannel sheets and blankets.

Fall in New Mexico also is the time for tens of thousands of birds, including the beautiful sandhill cranes, to take up their winter residence at Bosque del Apache and other areas.

This is the time of year to have the tank filled with propane, to have the roof inspected and to do last-minute yard work. Even yard work isn't as objectionable when done on a gorgeous day.

Unfortunately, fall also is the time when members of the local field mouse population decide to make their annual invasion of my house, in search of food and warmer temperatures. Despite two years of a pest control man doing 'exclusion' work to seal potential access points, this year once again found mice in the pantry (one of them chewed open a new bag of veggie straws), in my daughter's bedroom and in her bathroom. It's still too early to tell whether round three of exclusion work has solved the problem.

The weather forecast is calling for temperatures to plummet into the 20s at night in just a couple of days, with highs in the low 40s and strong winds. So I have just one more day to enjoy the beauty of fall. Already, the approaching Pacific storm is impacting the area, with cooler temperatures and mostly cloudy skies.

So today I will enjoy excercising outside, knowing that soon I will be driven inside, where my treadmill waits patiently in the garage.