Essay: In Kentucky, fall is a festival for the senses

gkocher1@herald-leader.comNovember 11, 2013 

  • Arctic front takes aim at region

    An arctic front early Tuesday will bring snow into the region, WKYT chief meteorologist Chris Bailey said Monday, and some areas might see up to an inch by 8 a.m. Highs will be in the low to mid-30s, with a wind chill in the upper teens and low 20s.

    Snow in November in Lexington isn't uncommon, Bailey said, averaging 0.3 inch for the month. The most snow recorded in November was 7.5 inches in 1966; all of it fell Nov. 2.

    The Lexington snowfall record for Nov. 12 is 0.1 inch, set in 1968. It is likely to fall on Tuesday, Bailey said.

    For all the latest on the weather, go to Chris Bailey's blog.

Autumn is the winding-down season. Squirrels do not recognize this.

As trees shed leaves, temperatures plummet and forests prepare for the big sleep of winter, Eastern gray squirrels ramp up their activity. Their little rodent brains become fevered in the pursuit of hoarding acorns and nuts — and more acorns and nuts, and more acorns and nuts.

This laserlike focus puts them in even greater mortal danger than normal as their tiny bodies and tails undulate across city streets and country roads — and in front of moving vehicles — like waves on a restless gray sea.

Perhaps in the same way that a squirrel's biorhythms are excited by fall — and what a glorious Kentucky autumn this has been — the crisper temperatures heighten our sense of smell. The slightest whiff of wood smoke brings back memories of an old stove at a grandparent's house in the country.

The season's first pot of chili bubbling on the stove can fill a house with the aroma of unconditional love.

The clean, fresh smell of apples at an orchard can summon memories of a mother cutting the surplus dough off the lip of a pie plate, the knife sawing up and down along the rounded edge.

Newly mowed lawns in autumn are reminiscent of those lines in John Updike's short story In Football Season: "I remember the smell of the grass crushed by footsteps behind the end zones. The smell was more vivid than that of a meadow, and in the blue electric glare the green vibrated as if excited, like a child, by being allowed up late."

Out in the country, rolls of hay take on a presence — like some rural Stonehenge — as they cast shadows in late afternoon.

And, of course, there are the brilliant crimsons, ochres, golds and even magentas of the fall's leaves to excite the senses. The blazing colors stand out on cloudless days, when the canopies of maples, oaks, dogwoods and other trees practically glow.

Surely this is what poet John Donne had in mind when he wrote, "No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face."


For the latest on the weather, read WKYT chief meteorologist Chris Bailey's blog at Weather.bloginky.com.


Arctic front takes aim at region

An arctic front early Tuesday will bring snow into the region, WKYT chief meteorologist Chris Bailey said Monday, and some areas might see up to an inch by 8 a.m. Highs will be in the low to mid-30s, with a wind chill in the upper teens and low 20s.

Snow in November in Lexington isn't uncommon, Bailey said, averaging 0.3 inch for the month. The most snow recorded in November was 7.5 inches in 1966; all of it fell Nov. 2.

The Lexington snowfall record for Nov. 12 is 0.1 inch, set in 1968. It is likely to fall on Tuesday, Bailey said.

For all the latest on the weather, go to Chris Bailey's blog on Kentucky.com.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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