After a couple of transitional days last week, the sunny southwest has turned the corner from summer into fall.
I remember that when we lived in Ohio, the change of seasons was slower, milder: a day of cooler weather would be followed by a week or two of Indian summer with flowers still bright and grass moist and jewel green.
Here in the land of sandy soil and sagebrush, the wind marks the change, as summer's warm gusts turn into a steady, cool stream flowing around the houses and on across the mesa. Every morning, five or ten hot air balloons rise into the sky as we drive down into the valley. The pilots are preparing for the balloon festival, which will usher in the high days of autumn.
Many locals will tell you that fall is their favorite season here. It is a time of remarkable beauty enhanced by an undercurrent of human happiness, much like late spring in the northern states. Winter doesn't hold the lifeless chill here that it does in colder climates; we know that our sunlight will remain and we will still be free to wrap up warmly and roam outdoors even in January. In the desert, the fall is a time of pure celebration.