A “guest” blog today is a reprint of a column my dad wrote some years ago for the Reno Gazette Journal

Autumn

The lovely Truckee River on a silky autumn day

Another gorgeous and unforgettable Nevada summer is being bumped aside, to be misplaced forever on your personal Island of Vagrant Memory. The gaggle of tanned human hides has at last reluctantly shifted off the cooling beaches of Lahontan and Pyramid and Tahoe and you can see the sand again for the absence of barely covered skin. Debris left by untidy visitors is carted from view. Swimsuits are stashed for another season, lost beach towels are only briefly lamented and the hoisted boats are having their bottoms cleansed. Those who are timid of either the big crowds or the hottest months, or both, now venture forth to uncongested lakeshores, thankful that at last the visiting hordes have sought happiness elsewhere. The dream that this would be an unending summer is put into dry dock.

Now, those who treasure our territory because it yields four distinct seasons can bask in anticipation. We are awash in the signals that Nevada’s autumn cannot be too distant. No sooner are the depleted vats of Sea & Ski lotion locked away than the final crop of alfalfa is flogged and baled. Soon the tired machines will be wheeled in for a long winter’s nap. The haying crews’ appetites will  diminish, but only a little. Hearts of Gold Cantaloupes will grow sweeter in Fallon, or so the legend goes, and that’s close to the truth. The doves are in the air now as they sense the hunters can be injurious to their health.

Summer is almost deader than next season’s unlucky duck and goose. The sun is losing its daytime vigor and isn’t showing itself to us until past 6:30 a.m. The World Series can’t be far away.

Summer had its fling. Labor Day was invented years ago as a legal reason to avoid a day’s work and that holiday has come and gone, followed by the surest autumn sign, the start of school, that lengthy response  to a tired mother’s prayer. Now the tiredness is passed back to teacher for fall, winter and spring. Wary new school bus drivers learn fast that they need more skills than steering. We begin again to abide by school zone limits. Can anything be tastier than the school lunch menu?

Autumn in Nevada’s air: the blitz of wedding stories now beyond the peak and dwindling; the fresh proliferation of flashing motel vacancy signs, still beckoning long after dark; the “Marryin’ Sam,” now pacing more anxiously in their plastic chapels; the small-casino operators tightening the economic screws and the big profit barons doing likewise.

Autumn. Is it my imagination, or is the traffic volume down and aren’t the drivers sweating less and swearing less? Soon the Truckee won’t be a river , and hardly and trickle and, altogether now, let the Indians successfully dance for a rain and snow prayers. Autumn just around the bend. A new nip in the early morning air and the sharper temperature decline after sundown.

Breezes remain gentle, but there is enough zest to tug leaves away from their moorings. Flowers are rearing their beautiful heads a bit more slowly these September mornings.

There it is that early hint of fall color that soon is to go into oranges, yellow , red, violets golds and dabs of purple here and there.

Nature is about to change to a new uniform. The red, red robin, such a regular visitor since May, has been pulling a disappearing act lately. The animals — our feathered friends, grown chubby during summer — are now in shape to survive the lean times. Get ready for the sweet honk of the honkers departing this scene.

Autumn reaffirms that everything changes except discos. Autumn is old experiences come back  to us, fresh again. Down with total water consumption and out with the rakes; the hills all around retreating to brown; the Idlewild and Virginia Lake crowds shifting down to a tolerable few; the desert, ageless, begins resting up for spring. Soon the aspen on the Sierra will glow again; the rattlesnakes will retreat from their rocks; we will cut the lawn less and then, happily, not at all.

As the Holy Author poises to give us again one of His autumn magic shows, the flies and mosquitoes are vanquished by the hints of the new season; we turn the heat up more frequently and lament the cost of fuel with newfound fervor.

The voice of Howard Cosell, part announcer, part huckster, all showman, slugs our ears. Once in a while Frank Gifford inserts a word in edgewise. Autumn and football, inseparable autumn companions, arrive concurrently.

In these parts announcers chant the language of fall above Mackey Stadium; there comes a new season of colliding young men, mauling each other over 100 yards of turf. Hail To Our Sturdy Men, Loyal and True, March, March on Down the Field Oh Silver and Blue.

Autumn. Let’s hear it for the Huskies and the Miners, the Tigers, the Colts, Senators, the Railroaders.

Let’s hear it for the falling leaves, long sleeves and football tailgate party-goers who not only made it home safely, but cheered the winning teams; here’s to the referees, may they call them all correctly this autumn; here’s to the trees getting ready for their late-year nudity act. Here’s to the forthcoming frost on the pumpkin; and to the hot-buttered rums just weeks away; here’s to the summer gamblers who lost and helped keep us green, and here’s to the return scent of autumn in Nevada. Fireplaces kindled anew, fluttering leaves flying amok, families back together after the summer separation.

Here’s to another autumn in Nevada. Maybe the nicest time of the year. And always unforgettable.

 

Written by Rollan Melton. First published in the Reno Gazette-Journal in 1978

 

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