Autumn melancholia

Taking some time to find the line separating summer and fall

There is a slew of news to talk about and dive into this week, including:

  • The Senate confirmed Tracy Stone-Manning as the Bureau of Land Management Director, marking the first time in five years the agency—which oversees some 250 million acres of land, the federal oil and gas and coal leasing programs, and public lands grazing—has had an official leader.

  • A federal judge finds the BLM failed to consider impacts to air quality and wilderness areas when it leased more than 55,000 acres for oil and gas development near Dinosaur National Monument in 2018. Similar rulings have plagued Trump-era oil and gas decisions.

  • The Biden administration wants to count grazing lands toward its 30x30 conservation plan. Really?

  • The Biden administration also began the process of closing an oil and gas and coal royalty loophole allowing a coal or oil or gas company to sell its goods to a subsidiary at a discounted rate and base the royalty payment on that, thus shortchanging the American taxpayers. The Obama administration closed the loophole and Trump re-opened it. Now, hopefully, it will be closed for good.

  • And, finally, the Biden administration resumed enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, specifically a provision that penalized companies for unintentionally killing protected birds.

And there’s more! But I’m going to leave it at that for today, because I’m suffering a bit from the late summer-early autumn malaise that has plagued me annually for many years. It’s a combination of nostalgia and melancholia that seeps into my psyche when the leaves and the light begin turning and I mark the season when I grow another year older. It’s something about the way the fruit hang ripe from the trees, the smell of decomposing leaves, the almost harsh crispness of the air.

I mourn the loss of summer and all of the hope and anticipation that comes with it and find myself with the urge to get into my car and drive toward the horizon, to find the line that divides summer from fall and cross over onto the summer side. I still haven’t found that line.

It builds and builds and then the clouds come—remnants of some tropical storm—and dump their load on the desert and the mountains, cleaning out the air while an only-in-autumn light infuses the towering thunderheads. Lament gives way to contemplation and rest and preparation for the quiet that is to come.

So get out and enjoy the light and the season and we’ll be back with more next week.