Glorious Kentucky Fall

Few seasons rival the sudden brisk air and tease of changing leaves that arrive with the quicker step of a Kentucky fall. Whether it’s an outing to hike trails over undulating hills through the embrace of corridors of trees and mosses releasing their fragrant forest smells, or seeing fields of freshly rolled hay waiting to be stored in open-ended barns, or the steadily focused grazing of cows and horses gleaning the last of nutrient-rich grasses before the first freeze, Kentucky is at its best once again. A trip to the Horse Park or Keenland Race Track in Lexington, north of Blue-Grass Airport, on a sunny 70 degree Sunday afternoon, reminds you that a race is on to harvest crops and store-up treasures, as bets are placed and slickly groomed mounts parade about, cheered on before the chilling temps of winter arrive and slow the pace, sending residents of the state into more cloistered environs.

Glorious Kentucky falls are about mornings when the sun rises over a distant hill and gently filters past the mist into a slightly cracked window, and dogs lying next to you provide the warmth needed to make the outside chill life-giving. It’s the dependable rumble and roll of pick-up trucks carrying cuttings of wood for stoves being prepared to counter the coming freezes of winter that render the out-of–doors dormant. It’s about birds delaying migration to fill up on seeds dropped in fields by wildflowers and weeds allowed to tassel, who are content scrapping for their sustenance. It’s about seeing loosely bundled sticks of golden-brown tobacco leaves, hung side by side, upside down, drying in open-ended barns, and catching the mild pleasant aroma that makes even non-smokers a bit dreamy. Cider-presses, apple stands, pumpkin patches where school children and families enjoy fellowship and fun, large rolls of hay people set up on end with spray-painted jack-o-lantern faces— all endear passers-by to a place where the lifted hand of drivers traveling in the opposite direction greet even strangers, in recognition that we are part of a larger community valued.

Kentucky fall from where I sit, stand, or walk at night, is glorious as it’s clear night skies unveil a silencing display of constellations and unique planetary alignments. Crickets and coyotes alike fill the darkness with their soothing and haunting choruses. After a day of cutting and pulling dried stems from the earth so the land can rest peacefully beneath anticipated blankets of snow for a season, there is no better place to consider the rich resources and labor of honest folk simply living the reality of preparation and harvest before rest, waiting for the next day or night or season to continue a cycle of life and death followed by rebirth. Glorious is Kentucky’s fall.

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