Vol. 18, No. 3


From the Treasurer’s Desk…
HPCC Calendar

Come Enjoy The 2018 Lyle Christmas Bazaar

Ambulance Service Depends on Levy 

Cycle Pub Adventure

A Year in Birds

HPFD Seeking Fire Commissioner

Please Pass The Zucchini

Poem: Earth’s Furnace

Serious Fire off Mott Road
Schilling Road Fire Hall
Thank You Yakama Tribe
Chief Tim’s Tips
Donation Buys New Tool Kits

Firewise Reminders

Recipe: Zucchini Monster Cookies

Autumn Scenes


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HPCC: From the Treasurer’s Desk…

Ken Hansen, HPCC Treasurer

The Paradox of “Thank You…”

rned value of a well-placed and heartfelt “thank you.” I found this equally important when collaborating with others in volunteer activities, such as youth sports and scouting. Perhaps like most of us, honestly, my practice often fell short of my ideal. 

As new residents seeking community similar to what we were leaving after 30 years in Alaska, we viewed HPCC as a venue for integrating into the community. Like any small-town community/church/volunteer organization, we soon eased up against that bell-shaped curve of human expectation v. participation. As new community members, we will hope against inevitability to remember this lesson in our service to HPCC.

In meeting our neighbors, we learned that some were active in HPCC, while others had made substantive past volunteer investments and were in various states of cycling-on to other things. Others just “ghosted-along,” for varying reasons. Perhaps not shockingly; I heard a recurrent theme in our neighbors’ reluctance to either hang in there or volunteer in the first place. Ultimately, this boiled down to some permutation of feeling chronically under-appreciated and/or improperly thanked or not thanked for their past efforts. 

I don’t mean this to be an e-elephant tossed in the room. Like perhaps most of us in volunteer service, l also grapple with this.  As example: (and with the best of intentions), I made a specific effort to publicly thank “all” of the volunteers who had been a part of a recent successful 1-day HPCC fundraiser. Despite my gentle and ranging inquiries, the list of names on my desktop (like a cold-case file) stalled in what I irritatingly knew was an incomplete state. For days I wrestled with the balance of publicly thanking many or most, but risking neglecting others. In the end, the note went unsent.

I’d like to say I eventually resolved this conundrum, but I did not. For myself, I appreciate the occasional nod for my efforts, and I will try to share my appreciation for those who help make High Prairie the special community it is!

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Thank you to Ken and Jocelyn Weeks for their recent donation to HPCC and Fire District #14. They specifically wanted to recognize the first responders who answered their need.

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As you begin your holiday shopping, don’t forget to use the High Prairie account at Amazon. We receive a substantial benefit back from this program. Here is the link:  https://smile.amazon.com/ch/91-2078267

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It looks like Fall 2019 will be a fun, busy, and rewarding time for the High Prairie community – after much consideration, lots of ideas, and the enthusiasm of some key volunteers, the HPCC Board voted last week to make an OCTOBERFEST celebration next year’s big fundraiser.

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Upcoming HPCC Calendar

September 27 

HPCC General Meeting, 7:00 p.m. at the Community Center. Bob Songer (or another sheriff) will give a talk on the Neighborhood Watch Program. 

Please Note: As of this writing there is a water supply problem at the Community Center. If water is still unavailable on the 27th, the meeting will have to be rescheduled. Watch for notification by email.

October ??

How about a community breakfast? Wouldn’t need to be fancy. There’s interest, but someone is needed to head it up.

October 15 

HPCC Board Meeting, 7:00 p.m. at the Community Center. Board meetings are open to the public.

October 25 

HPCC General Meeting, 7:00 p.m. at the Community Center. Speaker to be arranged.

November 19

HPCC Board Meeting, 7:00 p.m. at the Community Center. Board meetings are open to the public.

November 29


December 1 or 8

Christmas Brunch! – Looking for someone to organize the Christmas Brunch and many others to help. This was a popular event last year, and with everyone pitching in we can enjoy in again this year.

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Come Enjoy The 2018 Lyle Christmas Bazaar

Karen Beck

Vendors and shoppers take note: This year’s Annual Lyle Christmas Bazaar and Quilt Raffle is coming up on the 2nd and 3rd of November. Hours are Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to  4 p.m. The sale will be held at the Lyle Activity Center (old grade school) at 3rd Street and Highway 14 in Lyle.

The Lyle Christmas Bazaar has been a holiday tradition for over 25 years. There are generally 15 to 25 vendors selling handmade crafts such as quilts and jewelry, baked goods, jellies, pickled beets, apple butter, and lots of other homemade items. A food vendor provides lunch for a reasonable price, and coffee, tea and cookies will be available for a donation or just to enjoy for free. At 5 pm on Saturday the quilt will be raffled off. 

Vendor fees for tables are $15.00 for both days or $10.00 for one day. Table fees and the raffle proceeds are given to the Lyle Activity center for repairs or whatever they need it for.

For more information call 541-490-5673.

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Ambulance Service Depends on Levy

Audrey Bentz

In November, the Klickitat County Emergency Medical Services District is asking voters to approve a new six-year operating levy of 50 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value. The new levy will replace an expiring operating levy of 30 cents per thousand dollars, which has been inadequate almost from the formation of the District in 2013. The new levy will stabilize the EMS District’s finances, support needed improvements, and allow continued high levels of ambulance service to Klickitat County residents. 

Klickitat County’s ambulance service responds with life-saving assistance 24 hours daily, but it is severely impaired with under-funding at this point. One of the financial struggles is to upgrade the existing equipment, such as replacing the “boxes” on their ambulances, which badly need improvement. Some of the ambulances have 250,000 miles on them (generally ambulances are put to secondary use only with just 150,000 miles). To reduce frequent breakdowns, a new ambulance is severely needed. If it were to be purchased on credit, the added cost could be excessive.

Another challenge is that when the EMS District was formed it took over both Skyline’s and Klickitat Valley Health’s ambulance services, which tripled the service area and doubled the call volume. On top of that, call volume has continued to increase by 4% each year, and low reimbursement on calls doesn’t come close to covering expenses. High Prairie residents may remember when, in 2012, nighttime ambulance service was discontinued due to lack of funding. No one wants them to have to economize at the expense of people in need. With passage of the operating levy,  problems such as these can be avoided.

Another aspect of the problem is that employees currently must pay for all their own training (about 50 hours annual requirement), regular re-certification requirements, etc. The EMT’s start at minimum wage, and many have second jobs. The extra expenses and low wages make it hard to recruit and retain high quality personnel.

The operating levy on this November’s ballot is needed to replace outdated ambulance and medical equipment, provide a sustainable living wage for high quality employees to be able to live in Klickitat County, hire staff for a needed fourth ambulance, outfit a trailer for Mass Casualty Incidents (for example, train derailments or school shootings), and maintain safe and effective emergency ambulance service for everyone in Klickitat County.

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Cycle Pub Adventure

Rocky Schultz

A good time was had by Tom and Nance, Mike and Ruthie, Ward and Roberta, Duane and Rocky and Margie on their Cycle Pub adventure in Bend, Oregon. The crew went down to Bend for a couple days of frivolity and fun. We stayed at the Parish House at McMenamin’s Old St. Francis School, located downtown and within walking distance of everything. The Cycle Pub ride included stops at Silver Moon, 10 Barrel, and Sunriver brew pubs. We dined on some excellent Cajun food at Zydeco, walked around downtown, window shopped and shared a lot of laughter!

Maybe you’re wondering, what the heck is a Cycle Pub adventure? Cycle Pub (the company) books tours on crazy, tram-shaped vehicles (cycle pubs) where a bunch of people sit around a central counter and bike-pedal to move the vehicle forward. The company calls it “a rolling pub on wheels, that you pedal.” One person, usually a guide, handles the steering and braking. You pedal from brew pub to brew pub, and you can enjoy a glass on board while you’re pedaling from place to place, too.

Party bikes like Cycle Pub’s (aka pedal crawlers, pedal pubs, or beer bikes) were invented in 1997 by a company in the Netherlands, and they’ve become quite popular in the U.S. and Europe. They carry up to fourteen riders. They have ten pedaling seats, two non-pedaling bike seats, and a bench for two more on the back, plus a storage area for your BYOB stash. For smaller groups, Cycle Pub has a Small Bike, or “Cycle Round,” that will carry six riders.

Most people book Cycle Pub’s party bikes for tours of brew pubs on the “Bend Ale Trail,” but they would also be great for families or any group that wants an out-of-the-ordinary fun time. Tom, Nance, Mike, Ruthie, Ward, Roberta, Duane, Rocky, and Margie highly recommend it!


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A Year in Birds

Megan McCamy

Our first year here on High Prairie is now cycling into the second, summer turning to fall; and when we woke to chilly fog this morning I thought, wow! already?! The year went by fast. 

Last year we watched the bluebirds, grosbeaks, yellow-rumped warblers and vultures leave after the summer. Then the Steller’s jays and juncos arrived, as well as lots of fog and then snow. The snow made a stunning background for the Steller’s jays – white contrasting their brilliant blue, silence opposed to their chatter. A Cooper’s hawk also liked the jays and made a regular meal of them in a pine out front, leaving a collection of blue feathers behind. Large bands of turkeys came poking and scratching about in every clump of grass and shrub, as if they were saying ‘Where are the bugs? The bugs? Where are they? You know, the bugs?’ as they moved across the field and on to the next. The nuthatches stayed in the area over the winter, and their busy hunting in the ponderosas and oaks is always fun to watch. The red breasted and white breasted nuthatches appeared to travel together up and down the tree trunks and branches, the red breasted keeping up a steady chirping that sounds like it is saying ‘yum, yum, yum’ as it eats insects from the bark. Creepers, too, hunted the insects on the ponderosa trunks, but quieter and mostly by themselves.

When the bluebirds came back in Spring it felt like a circle was being completed. And soon enough the grosbeaks, tanagers, and vultures were back too. The flycatchers again were doing their acrobatics in the pine clearing, and the call of the Western Wood-Pewee filled the evening with the song that had been the definition of the previous summer. 

The next thing we waited for were the swifts. We had seen something last summer that we wanted to check on again, to make sure we had not been mistaken. In the evening we sat with our binoculars trained on an oak snag that has a moderate sized, south facing hole. Soon the swifts were circling overhead and occasionally one would swoop down and enter the hole. Then, a moment later we saw a bat appear, coming out of the hole to drop down toward the ground at the base of the tree. This pattern was repeated: a swift would fly in, and then a bat would drop out. We assume the bats flew away to do their night hunting since we never saw any at the base of the tree. We watched this on a few different evenings, and thought it seemed like a companionable arrangement between mammals and birds to share this snag – the birds out hunting during the day while the bats slept, and vice versa at night.

Now the bluebirds are moving about in big bands again, and I wonder how soon it will be before they will be gone and the cold weather and Steller’s jays will arrive, and so the next year here will have begun.

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There are no days so delightful as those of a fine October. 

-—Alexander Smith


HPFD Seeking Fire Commissioner

James Amery and Philip Haner,
Klickitat  County Fire Protection District #14 Fire Commissioners

Klickitat County Fire Protection District 14 (High Prairie Fire Department) is seeking one local High Prairie resident to fill an unexpired Fire Commissioner 6 year term position previously held by Arlen Aleckson. The term expires in November 2021, however, the candidate will need to run for the position on the November 2019 ballot. The Fire Commissioners meet the 3rd Tuesday of each month and the meetings usually last 2 hours.       

The department consists of 3 Fire Commissioners, 14 volunteer fire/EMS personnel, 1 Secretary/Treasurer and 9 apparatus. The fire district covers 50 square miles with the primary station located at 701 Struck Road. A secondary station is being constructed at 288 Schilling Road and should be completed by December 2018. A third structure used for storage is located at 704 Centerville Hwy.  The annual budget collected from taxes is approximately $40,000.  

This is a great opportunity to be part of your community and to help shape the financial wellbeing of the department. 

Those interested are asked to submit a statement of interest to Fire District Secretary/Treasurer Glenna Scott by October 15, 2018. You can email your statement to kcfpd14@gmail.com or by mail to PO Box 853 Lyle, WA 98635. The Fire Commissioners will select an individual at the October Commissioners meeting held on Tuesday October 16. 

Thank you for your interest in the department and our community. 

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Earth’s Furnace

Tom Doll

The dryness of summer
Has us begging for rain
As the sun bakes the land.
The winds of autumn will soon arrive
Bringing sensations of cold
As we wait for the soft white blanket
That seeks to cool the earth.

A spark from Lucifer’s flame
Has scorched the earth in a blaze.
Whirlwinds will feed
The colorful beacons that consume
A sea of prairie and mountains of fuel
Leaving a visible darkness.

We all feel the sensations of pain
And the agonizing fires that greeted us
Will always be remembered
For only the ashes remain.

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Please Pass The Zucchini

Jocelyn Weeks
(previously printed in the Sept. 2007 High Prairian) 

Late last summer, a dear 40-something friend from the city, came to visit High Prairie. Amongst her house gifts, was an elderly Zucchini squash, approaching the volume of a midsize Komodo dragon, with the weight and consistency of a seasoned chunk of oak. After an awkward “Gee .. Thanks.” chuckling to myself, I set it aside to “keep” in the utility room and reminded myself to cut her some slack, because she’s just learning to garden and cook. Having yet to learn that in most cases; zuchs and gardener’s equal coal and Newcastle. 

Our friend, is also an inveterate “re-gifter”, so I wondered how many times this fossilized vegetable may been exchanged? Like the legendary hundred year old Christmas Fruit Cake? Had some other gardener taken advantage of her inexperience? The dark black- green rind had a polished, around-theblock patina. I decided to take it as a compliment that she believed I could do something with it. 

In our own garden by that time of year, we also had some reptilian sized zucchinis that had managed to avoid detection. They had stems that looked like it would take some kind of special power tool to cut them loose from the mother plant. 

So after our friend left, I decided to face my dragons and amassed the whole clutch on the front porch, arranging the High Prairie Clan and Gift Squash in a “display”. Kind of like guardians of the gate. The Zuch Stops Here! I have to admit, all together they were impressive. Giving me fleeting thoughts of opening up a roadside attraction along with a self serve pie stand. The sun, solitude and natural beauty of this place does funny things to my mind sometimes. 

The squash installation remained on the porch until after the first hard frost. Then I gathered them up and buried their sagging, half thawed bodies in the garden to compost over the winter. 

This year, my husband and I were in for a lesson in the humiliation and betrayal of gardening hubris. The ideal growing conditions of the last season had given us an over inflated sense of our gardening abilities. Last year, seeds just hit the ground and grew like crazy. This spring seemed to be much cooler and the first seeds we planted just refused to germinate. After several replantings, my husband and I were starting to get a bit depressed, but we stubbornly kept trying to get our garden going. The seeds that finally sprouted and survived were scraggly but alive. 

One morning, while making my rounds through the tomato rows I spotted a feral seedling. A hardy looking volunteer zucchini had pushed its way up through many inches of rotted straw and compost. It dawned on me, that this was the very place I had buried my Gift, the one I had laughed at, composted, and forgotten. It was way ahead of the other struggling seedlings we’d planted three times over in proper hills, and the first to produce a little squash. 

When we ate that first tender zucchini, sliced and sautéed, on top of a steaming bed of rice, I thought of our dear friend now living thousands of miles away. We were dinning on our first home grown vegetable of the season and this time I was truly thankful!

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FireLines: Serious Fire off Mott Road

Jake Jakabosky
with valuable assistance from Tom McMackin

High Prairie experienced one potentially serious fire this summer near Mott Road. On Sunday, July 15, at 4:30 p.m., a mower struck rocks, throwing sparks into dry grass. The small fire quickly spread westward into a field of ripe canola, which is an oil-seed crop. The oil is like gasoline, and firefighters reported flames almost as tall as the oak trees. The column of dense, black smoke was easily visible from locations around the region.

High Prairie Fire District responded immediately with brush trucks and a 4,000 gallon tender. Lyle Fire District arrived shortly, and mutual aid requests went out to the Department of Natural Resources; Centerville, Rural 7, Goldendale, and Bingen Fire Districts; and the Forest Service Scenic Area. 

There were soon 70 personnel on-scene operating 18 brush trucks, 3 tenders, and 2 dozers. In addition, 2 Fire Boss aircraft dropped water and a helicopter was on standby to assist. High Prairie’s Fire Chief and the DNR Southeast Unit Manager provided unified command of the operation. 

Level 1 (Get Ready) evacuation notices were sent to residents west of Hartland Road. The fire was finally contained by 10:30 p.m. at 86 acres, mostly in the canola field – a significant loss for the farmer. 

One dramatic moment occurred as a High Prairie unit was working its way along the fire’s perimeter, putting out flames in the tall grass. Up ahead, next to a residence, was a shed containing an RV and boat. With amazing timing, they arrived just as flames were starting up the wall of the shed. Being on the spot at that moment saved the shed and probably the house as well. 

Chief Darland sent a “thank you” to all the local, state, and federal agencies providing aid during the incident, stating, “Your professionalism and assistance was greatly appreciated!”

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Schilling Road Fire Hall

Progress on the new Schilling Road Fire Hall is slow but steady. We are now looking at a completion date of December 1, 2018. The concrete floor took considerable effort, as it had to be perfect to support the weight of a fully loaded tender and the fire engines. District volunteers delivered water to the site to assist in the proper curing of the concrete and settling of the parking area. The building’s metal framework is now complete. The roof and exterior walls go on next. The roof will act as an apron, collecting precipitation and channeling it into a 28,000-gallon underground storage tank called a Rain Cavern, provided by Conservation Technology Inc. District first responders will help install it during the first week of October. 

Now that the new fire hall will soon be a reality, we need more volunteers from that area to help man the station in an emergency and to meet minimum staffing levels required for insurance companies to lower homeowner insurance rates.


Thank You Yakama Tribe

Once again High Prairie Fire District is the happy recipient of a grant from the Toppenish Casino. The $4,500 will go to much needed supplies and equipment. A BIG thank-you to the Casino.

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Chief Tim’s Tips:

The outdoor burn ban has been extended through October 12 for Klickitat County Burn Ban Zone 2 (that’s us). Yes, the weather is cooler, winds have died down, and we have seen light sprinkles, heavy morning dew, and even some dense fog. However, wildfire danger remains high. Fuel is bone dry and each sunny, breezy day keeps it that way. 

If you didn’t get that chimney cleaned late last spring, now’s a great time to do it while the weather is still nice. Climbing on the roof when it’s icy is hazardous and putting it off could result in a dangerous flue fire.

Some people replace their smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries on New Year’s Day or when they switch to or from Daylight Savings Time. Others check them when/if they think of it. Have you checked yours this year? Working alarms save lives!

Think about this summer’s fires and how easily the big fires could have happened here. Consider stepping up to help protect your home and your community. A hard, fast attack by local volunteer first-responders is often what keeps a small fire from becoming a national news story. More manpower is needed at all levels of training and ability. Join your local volunteer fire district. High Prairie 509-209-4381 or Lyle 509-365-2500  

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Donation Buys New Tool Kits

Tom McMackin

A generous donation from a High Prairie family and their wish to do something appreciative and supportive for our volunteer firefighters from both District 14 and Lyle’s District 4 made it possible to create five compact tool kits. These kits contain quality, substantial hand tools and other supplies for use in urgent response situations that can be easily used by firefighters wearing heavy gloves and cumbersome protective gear and equipment. These kits are in service on High Prairie apparatus: Engine 1411, Engine 1421, Aid 14, Command 14 and Brush 1412.

Our sincerest “Thank You!” Goes out to these High Prairians for their kind gesture and support… on behalf of the crew members of both fire departments and the residents of fire protection and emergency response districts.

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Firewise Reminders

Tom McMackin/Gwen Berry

YEEOW!! Wildfire season, like the rodeo bull riding season, is nearly over. Whew!!

My observation that living within High Prairie’s natural environment is a lot like bull riding (it’s not IF you’ll get clobbered…it’s only a matter of WHEN and HOW BAD!) proved out with all the fires that happened around us this season. Wasco County’s big fires come immediately to mind – Substation (80,000 acres) / Box Car (99,000 acres) / South Valley (20,000 acres). Don’t forget, though, that those deadly fires happened right after what could easily have been a devastating wildfire right here on High Prairie, the Mott Road fire that burned into Amerys’ canola crop. A fast response from multiple fire agencies and an almost windless day kept it small. We were lucky. If the wind had been blowing normally . . .

As you start 2018’s Fall/Winter outside chores, it’s a good idea to start planning and do some ground work to be ready for 2019’s fire season using the Firewise Home Ignition Zone concepts.

These fall chores will also help prepare the 0’-5’ Home Ignition Zone, since a shower of embers or sparks is very much like a rain shower:

Start at the peak of your roof. Clear out areas that have squirreled away leaves, twigs and other light fluff, and make repairs to keep drips (or sparks) from penetrating to the inside.

Inspect and clean the stovepipe or chimney system for the coming heating season

Before the roof gets wet with rain or snow, check gutters for condition and function, and clean out anything that has settled there with the season’s change.

On the ground around your home: while you’re clearing up leaves, pine needles and old plantings to keep wet debris from coming inside, consider different plantings or other uses for the area that will create a fire-resistant buffer next to your house.

Make note of any repairs needed to keep leaks (or creeping fire) from contact with the house.

As the wood pile gets used over the winter and cleared from the side of the building, plan a new spot for the wood away from any building contact.

You’ll also have a chance to survey and make a punch list of things to accomplish later in the Firewise 5’ – 30’ Zone!

For more information or a Firewise consultation on your property, contact Tom McMackin at 509-365-2786 or by email at firewise.onhighprairie@gmail.com.

Watch for information on a Firewise get-together at the HPCC in late October to talk about planning for Firewise projects and discussions on basic disaster and evacuation preparedness.

Online resources: 

Firewise – http://www.firewise.org or http://www.firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness/be-firewise/home-and-landscape.aspx

Ready, Set, Go! – http://www.wildlandfirersg.org or http://www.wildlandfirersg.org/Resident

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Zucchini Monster Cookies


What better use for a Monster Zucchini than to make Zucchini Monster Cookies?


1 cup grated zucchini (squeeze out excess liquid)
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups peanut butter (I used crunchy but you can use creamy if you prefer)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup M&M’s


Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the zucchini, sugars, and peanut butter until well blended. Add eggs, salt, and vanilla and mix well. Mix in soda, oats, and flour until combined. Stir in chips, and M&M’s.

Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto a silicone baking mat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 2” apart. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden. Let set on cookie sheet about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container.


Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.

-—Lauren Destefano