September is a month of hope. After an insufferably hot, dry summer, the first days of the month ushered in a few nights that dipped into the upper 60s and prompted the dispatch of a light blanket on the bed.
The quenching rains of mid-month returned the roadsides and pastures to a spring-green.
Although they weren’t a drought-breaker — the rivers and creeks are still bone dry — the showers delivered bright smiles to the ranchers at our church, some of whom enjoyed up to seven inches of rain.
The cooler air and the waves of rains teased us with a promise, a hope, that change is literally in the air.
You can see it in the sky. Bleached a bluish white in the summer sun, the sky has been scrubbed clean by the rain and is now a deep royal blue with silvery clouds floating overhead.
The harbinger of fall is always a welcome time at our place east of Blanco.
It happens as subtly as a glimpse at the corner of your eye, usually a day or two after Labor Day. This year it happened early, on Aug. 29.
The day before, we had suffered through another miserably hot day. Late in the afternoon, I sat on our porch. A southerly breeze picked up the stale hot air that lay over our fields and blew it in my face as if I had opened our oven to check on Sunday’s roast.
During the night the wind lay still, waiting for something to do. Just as the dark night was diminishing to a faint glow in the east, I heard a goat kid bellowing and went out to check on it.
Something was different. Something had changed. Something was stirring in the air. The wind had shifted to the north. A refreshing dry breeze was washing over the land. I looked at the thermometer. It was 68 degrees, the coolest reading since early summer.
By mid-day the sun blazed as intensely as ever but the early north breeze continued to invigorate. Even our livestock noticed the difference. They moved from the south of the house to the north to catch the breeze.
I turned on the weather radio. The temperature was 97 degrees but since the dew point and humidity had dropped dramatically, the heat index was only 93. How long had it been since it felt cooler than it actually was?
I sat in the shade of the sprawling branches of a liveoak drinking iced tea. I lifted the glass to the north and raised it in a toast to welcome an end to this most oppressive of summers.