At last and quite suddenly autumn has arrived. From one day to the next foliage of the many deciduous trees hereabouts has turned from various shades of green to bright yellows, oranges, and reds. Temperatures have dropped so quickly our bodies are having trouble adjusting to the cold that is not truly cold by an reasonable standards but cold for here in our Mediterranean climate, especially in the nighttime when we pile on the layers for our after-dinner walks under the bright brittle stars. Long-awaited rains have come to town, not in ample amounts so far but delivering enough water to refresh the dry throats of the streams we visit several times a week. After a long hot season of silence they murmur contentedly and sound quite pleased with themselves. Today as we hiked around the lake we saw a few orange-bellied newts venturing from their hideouts and sashaying across the duff, full of hope no doubt like the rest of us that there will be a rainy rainy season to keep their skins moist while they forage the forest floor for bits of lichen and mushroom. Meteorologists are predicting a big one, a whiz-bang El Niño year with deluge after deluge, bound to shift our attentions from the summer of unprecedented heat we have just endured to the possibility that those quietly contented creeks will turn raucous and ornery, overflowing their banks as they are wont to do in monsoon years. But just now we can do little besides wait with a certain amount of excitement about the possible end of our drought and some trepidation that we could be leaping out of the frying pan into the flood. So sweatering up we walk the neighborhoods and the woods collecting big leaf maple and liquid amber and sycamore leaves to place in a bowl on the coffee table as we did with our children when they were small. And with my hands full of colors and my heart full of children and my head full of weather I think about the worsening climate crisis that threatens to do us in and I wonder about the sapience and sanity of those of our species who seem willing to risk the future of our young and of all our fellow beings rather than kick their addiction to dead dinosaurs.
Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai'i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday and others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.