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Cool nights mean we're in for a season change

The Lovell Chronicle of Lovell, Wyoming

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Byron News

We traveled south last week. The days were hot when we left, but we returned home to some surprise weather. The night was cold and there was crispness in the air. It was time to close the windows.

I am told we are still going to have some warm days. Though I find some comfort in that, we have been given a warning sign of things to come. Right now I still water my flowers, herb garden and pumpkin patch, but I am seeing signs that autumn is creeping up on us.

I visited with Bob Doerr and Pete Harvey a few days ago. Both are longtime gardeners and smalltime farmers, and the two have many years of experience. They tell me this has been an unusual year for their gardens. The tomatoes just aren't quite what they have been in the past, their corn is slow to ripen and the raspberries are just knee high. Their melons seem to be doing great, though.

I look at my pumpkin vines and don't know if the blossoms are really going to be pumpkins or not. I've never grown them before, so I can't tell if they are on track for Halloween harvesting or not.

Bob's cows are spoiled from eating good garden waste and now they turn their noses up at cornhusks, which they used to relish. These conversations about the ending of gardens all lead to the inevitable realization — summer is drawing to a close. I love this time of year, not quite into fall yet, but nature gives us so many clues to prepare for change.

The squirrels are busy and we are working fast to get those repairs done that will get us through a winter with as few surprises as possible. I have enjoyed the fruits (and vegetables) of others' labor. I am always thankful that there is always more planted in gardens around here than the gardener can use, which leads to sharing with friends and neighbors, which leads to true happiness. Thank you to my neighbors for sharing the beans, zucchini, tomatoes, radishes, corn, onions and all the good home grown stuff that smells so delicious right out of the garden. Somehow it just tastes better. Thank you for your hopeful effort in planting, nurturing and harvesting. I have enough basil to make some pesto and if it turns out, I will share that bounty.

I enjoyed receiving a phone call from Ray Havig a few days ago. It is always nice to hear from friends. For many years Ray has been traveling from his winter home in Mesa, Ariz., to his Billings home during the summer. This past year the Havigs sold their northern digs and they are no longer snowbirds. They are surviving their summer in Arizona just fine.

He called to share one more story about Soke's swimming hole Seems as a youth, he and his siblings used to spend summer days swimming in the canal. The area they chose was not too deep and the water was mostly still. He would jump in and bob to the top of the water, and they cooled off every chance they got.

His first trip to Soke's was with a group of friends. He jumped in and experienced the whirlpool under the falls and quickly realized that he really did not know how to swim. Under he went. His friend Bob McPhail quickly jumped into action and grabbed Ray out of the situation.

"He saved my life," he said. "I was shocked to realize I didn't know how to swim after all of those afternoons in the canal."

When I hear stories like this, I think about the moms who go about their day and have no idea how close their child has come to an end with some of the shenanigans that used to go on in the days when kids were free to roam and invent their own fun.

Hearing about Bob's quick action to help his friend reminded me about Vernice McPhail (Bob's mother). She was a teacher here in Byron for 40 years. I remember her as a librarian and also the creator of the famous Santa sugar cookie. According to Jackie Hecht, everyone loved her and the class of '54 insisted she be their sponsor for all four years of high school. The McPhails were another one of those memorable Byron families.

Thanks, Ray, for sharing your harrowing experience at the old swimming hole. Hope you will travel up to your hometown one summer to play your trumpet on the alumni float in the Byron Days Parade. It is just not the same without you.

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Original Publication Date: August 27, 2015

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