Pat Shingleton: "The White Wind and Signs of Fall"
The world’s highest peak, outside of Asia’s Himalayas, is Aconcagua, located 100 miles east of the Pacific Ocean in Argentina. In the crown of South America’s Andes mountain range it rises 23,000 feet above the Pacific’s shores and the cloud cover at the summit is so frequent that it has been referred to as the Viento Blanco or White Wind. Mountain climbers traditionally describe each notable location by their strong environmental conditions and the characteristics of Aconcagua are its extreme wind. Pacific storms crash on the natural walls of the Andes. Westward pushing air rises above the peaks of the range to Aconcagua where it becomes White Wind. Condensation surrounding the white clouds turns these clouds to a Dantean orange at sunset. Finally, in previous years, there seemed to be more evidence of autumn. Years ago, I ventured through the neighborhood noticing a fig tree on one street completely clean, suggesting the birds were storing energy for winter. In subsequent years, the same tree displayed maximum fruit. About three years ago, our street-lined oak trees, were loaded with acorns, even more were on the ground as the squirrel storage process was underway. In addition it appears that fewer woolly worms were noticeable. In my younger years, butternut trees were ready for collection in mid-September. We’d collect the nuts with gloves and store them in the basement. They were excellent in Mom’s Christmas cookies. Why the gloves? The residue from the butternuts left a stain that was hard to remove.