OCTOBER: The season spirals in and still we have so much to do in preparation for next spring's sugar season. This is Year Two of setting up a new sugarbush on state land up behind us, of laying out a new-school system of maple tubing amid trees that have never been tapped. We have this month to wrap up the work before the cold stiffens our fingers and the snow clings to the bark of the maple trees. It's time to hustle!

There is wood to cut, split and stack, but none of this can get done without a truck, and Old Blue, our 1964 International has been in sick bay for two weeks with a shattered steering gear box.

Yesterday, I was startled by an ash tree up by the pile of wood waiting to be split, glowing luminously from within, in myriad subtle shades of gold. I had not noticed this tree all summer. Then the rain came and washed away the splendor.

October startles, as the sun tilts away from Nebraska Valley.