Golden sunlight blankets the yard of my back-door neighbor, where an aspen tree has already begun sprinkling its burley-orange leaves across the grass. A whisper of breeze flutters its garment and a few more autumnal sequins tumble to the ground.

His maples stand resolute, tight grasping their emerald-green foliage until frost makes their courage blanch. Then a red-and-yellow cascade will begin and, in just a couple of weeks, their tawny limbs will be bare. If the aspen follows its usual slow slide into winter sleep, though, it will grudgingly yield its last brown tatters to December snow.

A pale blue sky stretches overhead. Soon roiling banks of charcoal will sweep in from Canada, smothering  October’s sun with sleet and rain. Soon. Too soon.