Cambrian: Opinion

Autumn’s arrival in Cambria often boosts dormant hopes

Ah, October! What a relief! Weary after a summer of triple-digit temperatures, powdery gritty dust particles everywhere, and a stagnant brown haze veiling the view to the east? Who’s ready for a damp and fragrant fall? 

I am! I am! Bring it on, Mother Nature.

Autumn in the Santa Lucia Mountains is when I wave goodbye to annoying deer flies and say hello to a new, improved attitude. Store the spray bottle (mountain air-conditioning system) under the sink. Stack the firewood near the woodstove. Put away the flip-flops and slip on some “wannabe” Uggs. This is the beginning of several great months up here in the backcountry of Cambria and San Simeon.

There’s nothing quite like a refreshing fall morning under towering Coulter pines. Open the door, and brisk air commands attention. Deep inhalations of an earthy scent fill the lungs to capacity. The exhalations that follow release tension and promote hope. 

Optimism is revived and encouraged when there is the slightest hint that fire season will wane. The spirit welcomes the liberation. The feeling is both euphoric and enlivening as the body’s cells rapidly pass the word. 

Like horses that suddenly lift their heads, perk their ears and broadcast to the entire band, “Look! The corral gate is ajar! We’re out of here!”

Indoors, the season calls for flannel sheets, baskets of acorns (mountain-style horns of plenty), and hearty soup. Outdoors, the big-leaf maples and black oaks defoliate. Just a gentle breeze can blow down hundreds of leaves. They drift like butterflies, leisurely floating and flittering toward the ground. Ever so gently, they land and create bright patchwork quilts, lofty layers of yellow and orange leaves that blanket the woodlands’ floor. What a gift!

With fall’s environmental phenomenon and the internal experience that it arouses, it seems natural — even involuntary — to express enthusiastic thankfulness morning, noon and night. No matter whether it’s a “bow the head” kind of expression or a Mary Tyler Moore-type moment (a spontaneous hat tossing and jump for joy), this time of year inspires acknowledgment of our blessings. Heck, here on this mountaintop, even mealtime grace is offered with more gusto and mindfulness.

“For freedom from strife when so many live with violence, for food when so many go hungry, for faith when so many internalize fear, and for family and friends when so many journey alone, God, for these things and so much more, I am humbled and grateful. Amen.”

Here’s to a wonderful autumn everyone. Cheers!

Michele Oksen’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email the resident of Cambria’s mountain community in the Santa Lucia range at