Just to say. I'm sitting by the window, before sunrise, wrapped in the heaviest wool sweater I own (smartly saved from winter-clothes storage). Outside it smells like fireplace. The dog and cat have started sleeping with their bodies smacked up against us, so as to siphon off our body heat.

Over the next 10 days, we'll be lucky when our high cracks 70. Where my brother lives, several states south of us, the temperature right now, in the early morning, is 81. They'll see 104 degrees before the day is done.

Yesterday it rained on my way to work, and the roads were sloshy with water that hadn't yet seeped into the ground. For the first time in four months, another kind of precipitation came to mind. Driving in snow still terrifies the Texan in me.

I keep telling myself we have a while yet before we'll need to worry about that. Last year, autumn barely managed to slip through the small crack between the end of our hotter-than-usual summer and the Thanksgiving snowstorm that marked the start of our sudden, severe winter. We tried to go apple-picking exactly once (they didn't let you actually pick from the trees, though), but it happened to be tank-top weather that day. Otherwise, my favorite season snuffed itself out without much fanfare.

I can easily let go of the hot summer days. But this year I'm determined to relish this in-between, orange-tree'd, wool-sock weather. This year, we have good cause--sort of an autumn alarm clock, in the form of our vegetable garden. You can't accidentally miss the fall with a dozen pumpkins bulging on the vines, or rows of a last-minute, fall crop of greens anxious to be eaten, or earth to ready for its winter hibernation.

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