Summer’s End

September 12, 2010 § 2 Comments

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The glorious Driftless summer is nearing its end in the anticipation of the even more glorious Driftless fall. While, for many, this time of briefly overflowing gardens and fleetingly-warm days is bittersweet, to me it is anything but.

You see, I love fall – I love the colors, the angle of the sun, and the crisp, cool air.

I love the first snow as it comes softly, starting with flurries as early as October, white diamonds in the still-green grass.

I love the wood smoke in the air and the comforting feel of gunmetal in my hand.

I love the gunshots resounding through the countryside in preparation for the highest of Wisconsin holidays – the deer gun season.

I love the onset of winter that strips the woods of their foliage, exposing the backbones of the hills, making it easier to spot game.

I love the crunchy, golden-brown carpet underfoot as I make my way to my thicket, trying (in vain) not to make too much noise.

I love the loud call of the piliated woodpecker, the rustling of squirrels on the forest floor, and the familiar sound that makes my heart skip a beat – the cautious, careful footsteps of deer in the dry leaves as they venture out at sunset onto the still-green hayfields.

And there, on the edge of the woods, my freezing finger will be waiting to wrap around the trigger.

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I love the more peaceful, but no less food-centric fall holidays, too – I love the corny tackiness of Halloween, and the sense-numbing abundance of the Thanksgiving table. It goes without saying that turkey is not the only thing that gets stuffed that day. I can imagine it right now – my mother’s-in-law spacious kitchen, filled with the gathered family members, a game on the TV in the living room, accompanied by an occasional burst of emotion, a smoked turkey, an array of side dishes and pies, the huntin’ talk with the guys, and leaving my kids with the relatives to head for the woods after dinner.

But that’s a ways away yet. Meanwhile, a bright, warm day of the Indian summer drove me out of my house (an unusual occurrence!) and onto the road. And this is what came out of it:

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Notice in particular the landforms. Right now we are down in the valley. This valley is called “Timber Coulee” (“coulee” is the local name for the unglatiated valley-canyons around here). I find this valley to be among the most beautiful and I am not alone – it is a home to an international ski jump, a Gun and Rod chapter, and a golf course. It also boasts the best trout fishing stream in the area, attracting tourists from far and wide. This is also why most of the stream here is catch-and-release, and this is why we never come here to fish.

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And here we are back on the ridge. See how different it looks? This ridge is called Spring Coulee Ridge.

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And Spring Coulee proper.

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My in-laws live on a ridge-top, and their farm is called Poplar Coulee Ridge. The earlier picture showing my preferred hunting grounds is also on their land, and we call it “the short ridge,” because there’s also “the long ridge.”

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Notice the silo referenced here.

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Pretty pigs all in a row!

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