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Welcome Fall

By Staff | Sep 19, 2018

Photo by Chuck Clegg The mysterious war spider, spotted by Mary Clegg. Also known as Yellow Garden Spider.

When preparing my stories, I try and keep them upbeat and enjoyable. With that thought I begin writing my story for you to read this the last week of summer. By now you realized that this week’s story is about the coming of fall. For some, the passing of summer has come too quickly. Even worse, they know what lays ahead in the next season – winter.

A few days ago I was trimming around the cellar house when I noticed my work was disturbing the local katydid population. There must have been six or seven hiding in the tall grass that flew out as my weedeater approached. It seems, throughout the summer months, the green insects must live high in the trees or deep in the weeds, because I see them very seldom. But as the days shorten and fall creeps into the air, the small green creatures seemed to come closer to the house.

Maybe they come closer so we can hear their night sounds. Each evening, as darkness falls at this time of year, crickets and katydids serenade the outside world. The nights are still warm enough that I enjoy sitting on the porch listening to their sounds. I don’t think they are looking for a mate as much as telling us summer has passed.

A couple days ago, Mary pointed out that in her blue hydrangea was the web of a war spider. The brightly colored spider waits in its web for a mosquito or katydid to fall into its silky trap. If you are not sure what spider I am referring to when I say war spider, it is bright yellow and has a black pattern on its back. And if you get close he will cause his web to pulsate, warning you to stay away. When I was growing up my mom and dad told me that during the war these spiders would weave the letter “W” into their webs. If you look hard enough you may see the letter for yourself. I took a picture of Mary’s spider and placed an arrow next to a “W” lying on its side that is woven into the web. Or at least I think it does. Do I believe it means war? No, but it is one of nature’s oddities that people like to relate to an event in our daily world.

Recently I was watching the evening news. The story came from one of the New England states. Behind the reporter, in the distance, I could see the yellow and red leaves on trees. It appears that fall has started south and has already touched those most northern of states.

The other morning, while I was traveling to town, I saw leaves that had fallen onto the road. They yet had no brilliant colors, but their presence foretold of what is about to happen in the next few weeks. Somehow it seems not long ago I watched the leaves return to the trees. The summer of 2018 will end for us this Saturday, Sept. 22 at 9:54 pm. A good day to check your smoke detectors.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like fall, I just wish the cooler temperatures and the sounds of crickets could stretch right up to the coming of spring. Unfortunately, it seems to me that fall is the shortest season of the years. First crickets and katydids sing their night songs. Next, the morning’s heavy dew leaves droplets of water on the war spider’s web. When the morning sun touches the droplets, they appear to be diamonds glistening in the light. Later that day a cool northern breeze causes leaves to begin falling. Then, one morning, you look out your window and see the first frost is here. Fall colors and sounds sure did pass fast. After that, it’s all downhill until spring.

One more thing that signals to me it’s fall, I walked outside and I sense a pleasant smell that reminds me of my childhood. It is the smell of ripe pawpaws. Near our home there is a small grove of pawpaw trees. The fruit seems to ripen overnight and fall the next day. The local population of deer stand waiting for them to hit the ground. I am assured the yellow green fruit never goes to waste.

I hope my story of fall’s arrival has not been too much of a downer for you. But just think of the good things you can do in the first weeks of fall. On Sept. 28-30, the annual RegattaFest will feature Superleague racing boats returning to New Martinsville, a weekend of fast boats and racing excitement on the Ohio River. Out at the 4-H grounds on Oct. 12-14, the 26th Autumnfest will be held. There will be crafters and food vendors along with bluegrass performers who will provide entertainment for the festival’s attendees. If you have never seen how apple butter and apple cider are made, you have a real treat in store for you. Horseshoes, cornhole, and card playing will be part of the weekend’s events for those wanting old time competition.

Do you like seeing and listening to old tractors and gas engines? Then a trip to the festival will be what you are looking for. Finally, on Oct. 17 from noon until 4 p.m., the downtown area of New Martinsville will be filled with the aroma of chili as vendors compete in the yearly contest during Chili Fest 2018. Several craftspeople will also be set up on Main Street.

There will be a prince and princess contest along with a children’s costume parade. Organizers of these events work throughout the year to put on these popular events. And, you know the best part, they are all free to attend. You might want to remember to put these fall events on your daily planners so you and your family may attend.

Two more things you may want to visit before the summer season ends: Thursday afternoons on Sept. 20 and 27, from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the south end of Bruce Park, the farmers market will be held. If you live toward Hundred, the farmers markets will be held at the old West Virginia State Police barracks on Saturday mornings – Sept. 22 and 29, from 9 a.m. until noon. With this year’s season ending, these will be the last markets of the season. Take the opportunity to visit the markets, and see what local farmers have to offer for sale.

If you remember, I started my story by writing that I try to keep my words upbeat. A task I set for myself that is sometimes a challenge to do. But recently I read a posting by Amy Westfall Witschey. In her words I found a good way to end my story on a positive note.

Amy’s words: “I wish I could have gotten a photo of it this morning, but I was driving. In the midst of the fog I could see the blindingly bright light at the end of a valley. It seemed so odd to have such a white light on a dreary morning. As I got to a better angle I could see clear sky on the other side of the fog. I thought, isn’t that a photo of life? Of hope? There are clear, bright skies if we can just have the fog lifted – the fog brought on my drugs, alcohol, depression, or even just plain old negativity. Sometimes we just have to go through the valley to get to them.”

Mary and I welcome Fall 2018 as we look Through the Lens.