You can’t always rely on the calendar to tell you when the season is changing, but when you live in farm country, the signs of summer’s passing are all around. The days are shorter and suddenly morning feeding comes at dawn when the night’s work by full-bellied spiders is strung between every two branches along the path to the paddocks. A face full of web in the morning is a clear indication of the season. The air has a scent of maturity — berries over-ripe in the thickets, apples preparing to drop into the grass, tomato vines shedding that incomparable perfume onto my wrists as I feel in the foliage for fruits. Down the way, the field of pumpkins has been harvested:
And, of course, we see the gathering of shepherds for fall fiber festivals. Last weekend was the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby. It’s our biggest northern valley event, chock full of sheep, llamas, goats, and sometimes the odd dromedary or yak. You will see folks of all sizes and ages, vendors, hopeful breeders with their finest animals on display, shepherds visiting over the matter of foot rot or fly strike or worming schedules (no shepherd can resist a discussion of disasters), and the results of 3 days of classes instructing in wool, silk or cotton handwork, weaving, knitting, crochet, fiber blending, spinning, carding, dyework… You name it, if hands can do it and it involves strings, it will be there.
Here is itinerant sheep judge and writer Ian Stewart having a look at an array of Shetland sheep.
As I sat in my vendor’s booth, visiting, selling, and watching the shoppers make their way among the skeins and books and spinning wheels, I had to appreciate the display of fine handwork that passed through the building. Here are handbags,
(Click any of these thumbnails for larger views.)
The fact that the temperatures those three days reached the high F 80’s didn’t seem to discourage any of the display of woolen works. One might have thought fall had settled in and folks were dressed for the season. And in fact, now, the weather has turned toward the autumnal, and we lit a first fire in the woodstove at home. It was a pleasure to come home to the whiff of woodsmoke in the house.
It’s a pleasure, overall, to see the year moving on from summer.