Weatherford Democrat

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September 22, 2013

NOW HEAR THIS: A touch of fall in the air

By LARRY M. JONES

For better or worse, I’ve never, or at least rarely, been accused of not having an opinion on just about anything. However, when it comes to my favorite time of year, I can’t decide whether it’s springtime or the fall. Since I’m in the “autumn” years of my life, I suppose this is the season I should most heartily embrace.

Down on the “pore farm” when I was a mere whelp, the fall of the year was an exciting time. By mid-September the nights are finally beginning to cool off from the unbearable and stifling heat of Texas summers. With neither electricity nor air conditioning, this was a welcome respite. In addition, breaking of the summer heatwave gave us a better chance for some vitally needed rain to mature the peanut and pecan crops. A good soaking rain in September would make it a lot easier to talk to the banker next spring.

Another sign of the changing seasons was the appearance of enormous flocks of migrating water fowl. Mallard ducks would blacken the skies as they headed south to spend winter on the Gulf Coast. Located on the central flyway, the peanut fields here in Parker County attracted these puddle ducks by the tens of thousands. Here they would gorge themselves with the nutritious nuts. The peanut fields would often appear as an undulating dark carpet of feeding ducks. They would feed during the days, retreating to the relative safety of the river or lakes at nighttime. Large V-shaped formations of sandhill cranes and, to a lesser extent, geese could also be seen daily as they made their way south.

The river bottoms became a center for animal activity in the fall as the pecans began to fall from the hulls. This kicked into “high gear” after the first frost. Squirrels chattered like teenage girls, with jaybirds and crows adding to the din. All were eager to get to the fresh pecans. After dark the raccoons would harvest their share. Today, deer, turkeys, and feral hogs indulge in this seasonal smorgasbord of tasty treats. However, I don’t think birds have much in the way of a sense of smell or taste.

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