Fall was asserting itself on the High Plains as I drove to Lubbock early in the morning.
Dead calm when I left with an obvious frontline painted across the sky to the northeast, it didn't stay that way for long. Soon, in the pre-dawn light, I could see tumbleweeds the size of small cows racing across the road in front of me. Occasionally, a smaller specimen flung itself out of the ditch at my vehicle but none made contact with the paint.
The tumbleweeds were coming at a monotonous rate when suddenly a dark shape bounded across the highway into the wind. I quickly slowed down in time to watch a doe mule deer bounce over the fence and onto the sand hill beyond. Her pre-dawn attention had obviously been focused on the feed bunkers of the dairy she was just leaving. She was fat thanks to the dairyman and ready for whatever winter has in store.
No dramatic sunrise this morning with the thick belt of clouds on the horizon. The day slowly got lighter but the light didn't improve the focus much through the sand in the air.
Fields of cotton, with bolls open and fiber clinging to the wind-bent stalks, were easy to see. Like fields of fleecy snow the cotton hangs on a few days longer for the harvest.
Likewise, the bearded and mature grass danced in the buffeting of the blue norther pressing in on the day with force now.
At the coffee stop in Muleshoe people are dressed in brown duck jackets and coveralls, some with their hoods up and pickups and their heaters are left running as steaming coffee is retrieved.
It doesn't come with a dusting of snow on the peaks or with geese flying overhead all a chatter but the changing of the seasons is just as obvious if not a little more gritty out here.
Overcast and gray with a tinge of brown above the bare fields is the color of coming winter on the plains. Then a sudden break in the cloud bank allows rays of sunshine to pierce the gray. A clearing sky later in the day along with a dropping of the wind speed tells me the morning will dawn with a glistening coat of frost on the countryside.
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: