I am not sure that I made the best of this autumn though I gave it a good shot.
I made a mad dash west in early October. Up to Salt Lake and then across the Great Salt Desert under a wild and powerful sky. Snow flurries on the fringes. Thick rain on the road to Wendover. Clouds stacked like spaceships hovering over the Great Basin. But an icy blue sky by the time I reached Reno. After that there was a week of mad dashes over the Sierras and around the bay area. In one day I caught the sunrise on Lake Tahoe’s eastern shore, watched local fisherman in the early afternoon at Moores Landing on the Napa River, and settled in for the night at my sister’s house in Santa Rosa.
The next day I skirted the edges of the bay as I drove toward the delta, homing in on Mt. Diablo, giant windmills, and the farmlands outside of Oakley. My sister in Brentwood took me out to Shermans Landing where the Sacramento River more or less empties into Suisun Bay. Later in the week I was in my old Sunset District neighborhood in San Francisco under a flat, urban fog. Spent a Friday night with friends walking through Golden Gate Park and admiring western art in the DeYoung.
Then there was the long drive south on Interstate 5 along the California Aqueduct, through towns like Buttonwillow and Avenal. A night in Barstow, a morning scramble through Las Vegas, and a blessed return to the Colorado Plateau country through Zion Canyon and Kanab, Utah. A night of film noir with my friend Mike. Pictographs on the Paria Plateau. Ascendant fall color in Capitol Reef. And the triumphant return to western Colorado, just in time to herd the first falling leaves into the gutter.
There is never enough time in October. Autumn is the short season, the quick inhalation before winter. And if the falling leaves and long shadows aren’t a strong enough reminder, there is always the setting back of the clocks. That annual ritual that signals the end to my solo peregrinations and the beginning of a sort of hibernation. I have never been one to embrace the coming of winter.
But saving daylight is certainly important. We need all the daylight we can get in this world and then some. We will save it up, use it sparingly for a few months, then unleash its full glory upon the spring mesas, the summer mountains, and the autumn arroyos that are the best of the American West.