Local Lifestyle

Thursday, Oct 11 2012 02:11 PM

HERB BENHAM: The valley peaks in fall

By The Bakersfield Californian

Last Tuesday the wind blew and you knew the end was near. Or was it Wednesday? If we are delirious in the final days of summer, we have an excuse.

Every year, I say I'm not going through another one, but I do. Mine is bravado. The plaintive cries of a man stuck to the valley floor like a beetle to black velvet.

I work here, I live here, I do not possess a house elsewhere or an independent income. I went through last summer and I'll be shoulder to shoulder with you next summer.

What a thing. At the end -- the final days of September and the first few days in October -- fall is all anybody can talk about. Surely, after the fair. Only a few more days. Maybe this weekend.

We are as hopeful about the end of summer as we are about the coming of rain. Maybe it will rain. I can't wait until it rains. Wasn't that rainstorm lovely?

Summer is so long it seems like two seasons packed into one. In May and June, we are cavalier about the heat. Ninety, 95, this isn't so bad.

July. Our knees buckle and our confidence vanishes. We're in for it and we know it.

August. Duck and cover. Vacation. Shorten the month by leaving for two weeks, but August waits for us to return with its fiery embrace.

September is the icing on the cake. If you have one ounce of reserve left, one ounce of good humor, one ounce of grace, by the end of September you will be shorn of all three.

Now this. Fall. A high of 78.

As nobody appreciates the ocean more than those who live inland, there are few who relish the coming of fall more than the people who live in hot climes.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Windows slide up, doors are flung open and thermostats are clicked off.

Who doesn't sleep better in the cool? Not noisy cool, but quiet, fall, cool air circulating through our bedrooms cool.

Riding to the pool on Monday, I was almost cold. I don't want to be almost-cold I want to be cold-cold.

Long sleeve shirts. Remember what those were like? Soft white gym socks at night. I can't even imagine what a sweatshirt feels like, but I aim to find out.

Coffee. My first cup in awhile. Coffee tastes better when your skin is cool.

As a bonus, the pomegranates have reddened after being an unhealthy tan for weeks. A woman stopped by on her early morning walk and asked if they were ready yet. Not yet, but soon.

The grass has been mowed short and is covered in dry rye seed. Time to plant sweet peas if you haven't done so already. Susan Peninger sent a recipe for Squash Tea Bread, which sounds perfect for this, our favorite season (I will print it, if it sounds appealing).

Think back to the snow day in 1999. The whole town stopped and everybody stayed home from work and celebrated.

That should be fall. Snow was a once-a-century miracle, but fall is cool grace we can count on every year.

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