You Know It’s Fall when . . .


The summer concerts have ended, except for one. The sleeveless cotton dresses are packed away, along with pairs of shorts and sandals. It’s jeans and long sleeves now, with the occasional hot afternoon where I strip down to my undershirt.

Fall has arrived, not so much with leaves changing colors. We don’t have cold enough weather for that yet. After all, it’s California. But we do have high winds and low humidity, and with no rain since May , everything is bone dry  — tinder for a wildfire.

Our power company is gun-shy now, after the horrific Paradise fire two years ago that wiped out a whole town and killed 88 people, many of them old, some that couldn’t open their garage doors without electricity.  The power company had sparking lines that morning, and once the sparks hit the dry grasses and the wind kicked up, disaster was inevitable.

So now the power company is having preventative power outages on dry, windy days. It is wreaking havoc for small business owners, especially restaurants and grocery stores that have rotting food to deal with.

My house did not lose power. But I was ready for it to happen.  I have my flashlight, my go bag, dog food and leashes in the car, power bars in the car cooler, and a jug of water by the door. You might think it’s crazy, but the Oakland Fire of ’91 that burned 3500 houses was in October. We are in high fire season until a significant rainfall.

I rake the pine needles weekly from the park next door (the tree drops them into my hedge).  I picked up 20+ pine cones that came down in the high winds and boxed them up for my worker woman. She wants to make them into turkeys with her daughter’s class.

My salad meals aren’t going to cut it once it starts being cold outside. My son says to switch to soup, which I will have to do. My strange diet works for only me, and most don’t understand it at all.

I bought some smaller jeans that actually fit me and threw out the shorts that were too big.  My closet is ever changing as my size goes up and down with the whims of my stomach. Most of us women have clothes that are too small in our closet. I have too big, way too big, and it fits this week sizes.  Layering works best for a person who has lost all of her body fat.

But I digress.

One of the dogs is snoring, and the other one is out like a light after the three neighbor girls threw her ball to her a dozen times each. Funny, though, if I throw her the ball, she runs home to the porch. If the little girls throw her the ball, she sticks around to play the game with them.

After I put the small dog inside and leashed up the big one, it was getting dark. I turned down our usual street and saw a loose Doberman and two people in the driveway. Not good. My big dog, the guard dog, keeps everyone and everything away from me.

Sure enough, the people did not have control of the Dobie, and he wandered over to see Pepper.

“She will probably attack,” I said, knowing my dog well.

The Dobie approached, bigger than mine, and Pepper did her guard dog routine.

I wish Pepper liked other dogs. But I do let her bark at everything that comes near my fence next to the park. I want her to be my protector. That’s why I got her. There were break-ins in my neighborhood four years ago.  I jokingly said I was going to get a pit bull. The universe dropped two pit bull/lab puppies into my path right after that. Pepper was one of those puppies.

If only she could protect me from all the dangers that autumn brings.

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