It’s an ugly fall this year at Butterfly Bottom, the aftermath of months of hot, dry weather and very little rain. Not only can I feel and see its presence along the creek and just over the brow of the hill, but I can hear it in the trees, in the leaves that died suddenly with no farewell wave of color and now rattle harshly on sycamore and locust, on walnut and sassafras and hedge apple.

Unlike last year, when this was taken, this has been an ugly fall

Every now and then the wind brings to the Daniel Boonery – the patch of remnant forest guarding the hill – a foretaste of what’s to come and its trees respond with a collective shudder, shedding worn fragments of summer’s glory in showers of brown and ochre, grave clothes for the butterflies that just a few short weeks ago danced in their hundreds over our hillside medder.

This is my second Kentucky fall in  and I’m finding it just as exciting as my first, coming as I do from a country where the seasons merge, rather than change.

I know that Winter’s just behind the north-side hill, urging Fall to get on with it so that he can grab the country by the throat, but I don’t care, for I’ve just finished stacking firewood and there’s only a couple of loads still to come.

In 1822, writing in his forward- thinking and almost prophetic Cottage Economy – an early complaint about globalization and the alienation of the rural worker –that great curmudgeon, literary hammer of Irishman and Methodist alike, William Cobbett noted:

A couple of flitches of bacon are worth fifty thousand Methodist sermons and religious tracts. The sight of them upon the rack tends more to keep a man from…stealing than whole volumes of penal statutes…They are great softeners of the temper, and promoters of domestic harmony.

Well I’m very partial to a bit of smoked hog jowl myself – especially with some murphies and a few green onions – but when reminders of winter or the state of the bank account trouble my thoughts, all I need do is stand in the doorway of the old tobacco shed and my equilibrium is restored.It might’ve been bacon for you, Bill, but for me it’s firewood. A big, fat, stack of firewood.

Frank Povah

Frank Povah

Arriving in the USA in late 2008, Frank Povah moved to Stamping Ground, Kentucky in mid 2009. Passionate about the written and spoken word and constantly bewildered by non-verbs and neo-nouns, Frank trained as a typesetter - though he has worked at many things - and later branched out into proofreading, writing and editing. For many years he has been copy editor, consultant and columnist with a prestigious Australian quarterly along with running his own editorial and typesetting business. His other interests are many and include traditional music, especially that of the south, folklore, natural history, and pigeons.