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Published September 19 2010

Nelson: Blessed autumn here at last

The heavy rains we just had are the opening salvos of the Great Flood of 2011. The days are cool now, the ditches are full and the ground a swollen sponge. Only a fall and winter of unlikelily dry weather will spare us now. It’s not too late to build an ark, folks. I wonder what the flood diversion friction will be between the big-city folk and the small-city folk if and when the “Big One” hits again this spring.

What a fitting end to the summer just past. True, the summer of 2010 suffers in comparison to that of 2009. Nearly all summers do. Now, 2009 was the perfect summer: adequate and well-timed rainfall for the most part, moderate temperatures, a dearth of Asian ladybugs and pocket gophers and, glory of glories, practically no mosquitoes. Surely the first evil released on Earth after Adam and Eve got booted out of the Garden had to be mosquitoes.

Their numbers built geometrically early on, then exponentially, until they became a horror by the end of August. I recall grubbing around under one of my trucks changing oil on a hot August night around 3 a.m., the trouble light making the mosquitoes glow a cream color as they flitted around various frame members and pipes on their pestiferous missions.

It’s just not right. We suffer rough winters here only to be flooded in the spring and denied the joy of summer by bugs. A local radio show host stirred the pot recently by asking which is more livable, Fargo or Bismarck. It’s Bismarck, by a mile. Minuscule flooding and drier climate (thus fewer mosquitoes and gooey summer days) trump.

And, no, I won’t be whining about summer days in winter, at least on winter days that are near average in temperatures. A January day with a modest wind and temps between zero and 15 suit me better than many a bug-soaked, sauna-like summer day.

This summer we lost our crab apple tree, a plum bush and, worst of all, both of our Connell Red apple trees. The Reds are my favorite apple – tomato-shaped, with a firm, aromatic flesh that is slightly tart with an appley sweetness we greatly enjoy. I liked snagging an apple now and then when mowing around the trees in September. It took a year, but the standing water on our property in the spring of 2009 did them in. It took years to bring them to their peak; my wife and I will be rather aged before the Connell Red saplings we planted this summer reach their predecessors’ perfection. Thanks, Mother Nature. Here, have some leafy heml – er, spurge.

Though we know the bitterness of oncoming winter without the joy of a livable summer to offset it, at least we have the best season of all right now: autumn.

Nelson is a Fargo postal worker and regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary pages.