When the village hosted its annual “Community Days” event, my wife Leighanne helped out the fund-raising cause downtown, while I got help with the replacement of a leaking porch roof at the house. My neighbor and I drove to the city where I bought sections of red tin roofing material. We strapped it to the truck and drove back to the village where L. had ordered barbecued chicken for us from the firemen. Following the pick-up of our lunch in town, we ate the barbecued halves and salad at the house, then planned our work session.
Conrad, Aaron and I did the roofing, knowing we were several hours ahead of an advancing rain. Finishing the project, we beat the shower, luckily enough, by two or three minutes. It was time to kick back and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, considering we were greenhorns when it came to cutting tin by hand and laying it against the elements above. But rain on a bright new roof had a soothing, elemental sound, and it was pleasant to wait on a dry porch for the women to arrive with pizza (yeah, we ate well that day).
I imagined the edges of a red roof extending into late summer foliage and inducing the first hint of crimson-colored leaves. I saw the brightening fins of native brook trout in the riffles of mountain streams, and I looked forward to the next day when I’d drive to Potter County and fish a favorite Pennsylvania rivertop.
I was on the stream by noon. The sun was battling with clouds for dominance of the sky. The closed gentian, a favorite autumn flower, blued a spot or two along the bank; and native trout rose eagerly to a Stimulator cast upon the riffles.
The calendar claimed I was two weeks short of autumn, but I was feeling close. The owls seemed to hoot it from their sleep; coyotes barked it from a distant ridge, and trout, yes the trout, seemed to leap through the water’s surface at the prospect of a change.
Beyond me was the house where autumn lived. I couldn’t really see it, but a russet patch upstream, a hint of orange or yellow in the foliage, a leaf or two of redness, told me that the house would soon appear.
In another month or so, the house made of trout stream, forest, and mountaintop would announce the presence of its famed inhabitant. Autumn would be visible with his pallid skin and multi-colored coat.
His earth house would be obvious and would beckon the solitary fisherman or hunter. I could rest there on its porch for a while, if necessary. Its roof, so ancient and so new, would brace the sky, yet offer me protection.