It’s in the air. That first restlessness. The leaves aren’t really falling yet, they’ll hold till December, if we don’t get any huge storms. The grass is dry, but it won’t be long till the green shows up. It’s not really gotten cold yet, either.

There’s just the restless feeling. One season gone. Another one coming.

The wind starts picking up, towards evening. It isn’t powerful, not wild. It is like a young cat, flipping a ball between its paws, dancing up the valley and through the trees.

Darkness slips over the land, bringing the clouds with it. Maybe a few drops of rain fall, poofing into the summer-dust. Mostly, it is just clouds and rain.

That’s when its time to climb to the top of the faery-hill. There’s a circle of bare ground up there, for no good reason. Wondered sometimes if I’m planting my ass on Faery’s front door, without a how-de-do to pay. Whatever that circle is, it’s on the face of the hill.

Catch the pony from the pasture, or the racer. Throw a halter over their snorting nostrils, and feel them quiver with the electricity of the night. Loop a rope to the side-rings. Find a bank and gracelessly wiggle onto the warm back. That warmth feels good, the air is cooling down, the wind nips at bare shoulders.

The horse knows where to go. Slither off, and turn to face the western sky. All the magic happens there. All the sunsets, the incoming storms. That’s where the first flickers of lightning will show.

The ground is still warm. The Earth still holds onto summer’s fading glory as the Autumn tries to coax her into its wild embrace.

There’s the first, distant, ethereal boom. The thunder has come, behind the lightning. Light skitters across the clouds. Not bolts for our hills, oh no! Not for the first storm! This is sheet lightning, spreading across the night sky. It lights up the night in ways bolt lightning never lights up the south. Shadows stand as stark and clear as a moonlit night.

The storm goes on all night. Light and dark, cool air laden with electricity and warm earth. The shivery breath of the horse, the tendrils of hair being whipped by the wind.

The first storm of winter moves quietly through the valley, the piper of them all. Dignified, restrained, wild and weird.

And, in the morning, it is gone. It will return next year though, and the next, a fixture of life.


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