The benevolent first phase has passed, those days of sweet clear air, deep blue sky, and luminous warm colors of vine maple, huckleberry and mountain ash turning. Frosty nights are not too terrible if the sun shines the next day.
But sooner or later the jetstream shifts and the storms come. Phase two arrives with wet gray clouds and causes the forested landscape to suck up daylight like a black hole. Chunky rain slashes the air with ice and cold water. Leaves fall to lie in sodden clumps under bare branches. It is the time of the raven–their voices rasp through the fog.
The woolen long underwear is pulled out of its drawer. Hats and spare gloves go in the pack, and I put on gaiters before hiking. Every week I make a pot of soup for a thermos hot lunch. I walk to work in the dark. This is the new reality. Summer is a memory.