Autumn in northwest Minnesota means… I’ve prepared 10 batches of pesto, sliced and chopped apples and tomatoes, shredded zucchini and tucked it all away in the freezer for the coming lean winter months. Onions, potatoes and squash are stacked in bins in our kitchen. Our lawn is thick with acorns and leaves, crunchy and brown, while squirrels, cheeks full of food, run up and down the oak trees. I’ve resumed walking my youngest son to school every morning, a ritual that we both relish and commit to as long as the weather allows.
Because of the extremely dry weather, this autumn also means… Fires on farms and wild lands are common. A group of state firefighters have taken up residence at a local hotel. Every morning I see their trucks drive out of town. At times they are joined by forces from far away. Our own firefighters, volunteers who work other jobs, must be exhausted and stretched thin. The town fire alarm blares often, some days over and over, which just feels eery. Fierce winds have only made the fires worse. Those same winds spread a layer of dust through the house. Earlier this week, fires in nearby communities raged. The national guard was called in for assistance. Numerous homes and buildings were destroyed. The town of Karlstad, including its school and healthcare facility were evacuated. Roads were closed and travelers turned away. I had never hoped for rain — inches and inches and inches of it — as I had this week.
The crazy thing is that farm crops are phenomenal this year — the best ever, some say. Gardens also produced bumper crops of tomatoes and green peppers, as well as other produce. Apparently, rain fell at just the right times. It’s hard to reconcile the abundance when you can practically taste and feel the dryness of the earth.
In yet another bizarre twist, we awoke to snow and ice this morning. The phone rang with news that school was delayed; and later cancelled due to poor road conditions. Could this weather get any stranger? My son, who wore shorts earlier this week, dug out his snow pants and boots and joined his friends to play outside. Right now, the power is out and has been for awhile. The heavy snow is weighing down branches in our yard. It must be brutal for power lines. I’m just hoping the power outage is temporary and let’s be honest, the snow, too. I’m thrilled for the moisture, but this is way too early for snow.