The party running late, this time, was autumn.
Oh sure, the light changed, spearing over the land at that long low angle that first alerts me summer is waning. And, yes, leaves of sticky geranium and Rocky Mountain penstemon flared scarlet here and there against a backdrop of grass cured to wheaten monochrome. On several early October afternoons, I heard the peculiar belling, fluting, honking calls of Sandhill cranes drifting down from on high, as small flocks of the big birds threaded south toward their wintering grounds in New Mexico. The horses shed short gleaming hairs and began to put on their puffy winter coats. Changing aspen leaves emitted slow-motion flashes of bright yellow from dark evergreen stands, and the oak brush flared, more slowly, in tones russet and rust. The lusty whistling of bull elk rang through the crisp air for weeks.
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