Oscar Wilde – that author who, if we know him at all, we attach to the pain associated with college literature classes – has a quote I hear circulating this time of year. I don’t know which of his writings to attribute it to, but it is poignant in a way that is hard for us lay folks to describe; we feel its truth, which is why, I’m sure, it is shared so much – often accompanied with picturesque scenes of a changing landscape. It efficiently describes the transition between the seasons, which can feel both abrupt and gradual.

Louder erica
Freelance Writer
Erica Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho.

“All at once, summer collapsed into fall.”

I love the transition of the seasons. I love living in a place that has seasons. I love the gradual slowdown in the fall as much as I crave the increase in activity in the spring. This year, though, summer didn’t so much collapse into fall as it collapsed into winter. Winter came like a ton of snow sliding off a metal roof to pile on my doorstep. I was cheated of days without mosquitoes or mud, of just-a-sweatshirt-to-feed-the-cows days and of crisp fall mornings. My kids wore shorts to school the day before we searched for winter coats.

In Mother Nature’s defense, the weather is like that around here. In my high-altitude desert Idahome, I’ve experienced first frost dates as early as the first week of September and, one rare year, as late as Thanksgiving. This year felt a little different still, though. Mid-October, it was 80ºF daytime highs, and then one morning, I woke up to a layer of frost and 19ºF. We cut the AC in time to stoke the fire.

For us, winter is a break from all the duties, all the time. It’s a break from irrigating and fixing equipment, a break from digging corrugates and building fences, and a break from riding pasture. Yet, when there isn’t a fall as the season changes, it is like winter is the seeker in hide-and-seek, saying, “Ready or not, here I come.” Winter is coming – ready or not. If you aren’t ready, you are found by winter quickly, and you deal with the consequences.


Our Indian summer gave us another cutting of hay and a chance at more tomatoes from the garden, but we’ve been found by winter, for the good and the not-so-good. Winter means nights by the fire watching TV, early bedtimes, Christmas, Sunday night board games, pushing piles of snow, frozen water lines, frostbitten fingers, calves born in blizzards, endless mud and plugging in the truck.

All at once, summer collapsed into winter.

For my readers, what was the changing season like in your region? Did summer collapse into fall, as it should? Or collapse into winter?