Dan Rayfield, Texas Master Naturalist, Indian Trail Chapter

 Recently my bride and I were sitting in our chair swing at the close of another hot Texas day. You couldn’t really say it was cool, but since all things are relative, I guess it was relatively cool. I had an iced beverage in my hand and an ancient cat on my lap. It was what the poets used to call the gloaming of the day. Without really knowing why, I found myself in a happy mood. Now this is in stark contrast to my more typical summer mood which tends toward the grumpy end of the emotion meter. Sweating in 100- plus degree heat just does that to me (but not during the evening under discussion) and I found myself strangely introspective about it. What was different about that evening? Well, for one thing the moon was nearly full. And to make the moment even more delicious, I could do a 180-degree pivot and look up pasture to see a gorgeous, multi-hued sunset reflected on scatted clouds to the west. I could not decide which way to face. Everywhere I looked I saw a free show that was better than any sporting event or movie or concert.

However, I knew it was not the sunset/moonrise moment that put me in a happy mood. Nor was it the fact that I had enjoyed observing a young roadrunner for over thirty minutes earlier in theday (now do you understand why my projects take twice as long to accomplish as most people?  I dawdle and daydream.) This particular roadrunner was something of a clown and completely unafraid of me. He was hunting grasshoppers and he was enjoying it. As I closed my front gate earlier in the evening he had repeatedly climbed, hopped and scampered up a big cedar to a limb that stretched over the road. There, oblivious to my nearby presence, he would wait for his prey and when the timing was right he would swoop down and pounce. This was not the normal roadrunner hunting process that we have observed over the years. They are normally more efficient and hunt as they run. But this young bird had his process down and, if I can put it in anthropomorphic terms, “he was having himself some fun.” Who am I to correct him?

But I digress…

Let’s circle back to my unexpectedly happy mood on that warm summer evening. As the sky darkened and the moon got higher in the sky it suddenly occurred to me why I was happy. It was simple really: accomplishment and anticipation.

I had accomplished the survival of another Texas summer and I could enjoy the sweet, delicious anticipation of the best time of the year. Autumn is almost here. I don’t know about you, but just the word “autumn” makes me happy. Cooler weather…, warm stews and chili…, the turning of the leaves…, trout fishing and long hikes…, and evenings with friends by a campfire. As the song says, these are a few of my favorite things. And they are all wonderful and I enjoy them all. But I find that I enjoy the anticipation of all those wonderful activities just as much as the activities themselves. So, now, while it is still hitting 100 during the days and the evenings in the swing cool down to a balmy 91, I am already in an autumn frame of mind and I’m already happy.

I hope you are, too.

Remember to check out our website ( for meetings and information. You are invited to attend our free, monthly program every fourth Monday of the month at 7 pm at the Red Oak Library, 200 Lakeview Pkwy, Red Oak, TX. We would love to have you.

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