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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

First Frost

Air Date: Week of

In Minnesota the first autumn frosts have been felt. Susan Carol Hauser comments on these chilly harbingers of winter to come.


CURWOOD: The constant of life, of course, is change. But in our busy lives away from the natural world, many of us don't notice the subtle manner in which the seasons turn. But the natural world transforms itself whether we notice or not. Luckily, commentator Susan Carol Hauser was paying attention one recent morning.

HAUSER: Here in northern Minnesota, on the day of the first heavy frost, I walked out into the yard of our country home. The microscopic ice crystals acted as ball bearings under my shoes, but it was the scent of the air that stopped me mid-path. I breathed deeply many times, still could not breathe deeply enough and yet had to stop for the dizzying effect. Letting my lungs regulate themselves I stood a moment more and scanned the view from south to north. The maples on the hillside were scarlet, the oaks beginning to burnish. Aspens across the way stood tall and slender, their bare branches forked into the sky.

It was then I realized that the season had turned, although the willows closer down to the swamp were still green. In the distance on the peninsula that reaches out into our bay, I could see more tree silhouettes, and on the far shore a long, ethereal stretch of gray winter trees. Yesterday it tried to snow and last night it froze hard. Twenty-five degrees when I got up this morning, too cold even for frost on the grass.

I stepped outside. Just above the treeline to the west last night's full moon faced off with the sun that was rising behind me. As I watched the moon yielded and entered the baring branches of the trees. The sun pushed at my back but I did not move. I had become aware of the sound of rain though it was not raining, and then I saw it in the nearby trees. Leaves were falling by handfuls. Made brittle by the cold they clinked against twigs and other leaves, and clinked again when they landed on the ground.

I held my breath. The moon descending, the sun ascending, leaves falling like rain around me, I closed my eyes and listened. Then opened them and yielded my lungs to the robust air of winter.

CURWOOD: Commentator Susan Carol Hauser lives in Puposky, Minnesota. She comes to us via Minnesota Public Radio's KNBJ in Bemidji.



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