The weather in September on the prairies was a bit like a lottery. You bought a ticket and crossed your fingers for Indian Summers with long shadows over gilded fields; late bloomers bravely defying the approaching solstice and picnic lunches with fresh crisp apples and bored but hungry wasps.

This year, the cold came early.  By the second week of September, the ground and foliage were daily salted with snow, not quite the highlight of a sugar-crusted frost but rather a pronouncement of Winter’s authority over Autumn. The breath from long sighs was visible in the dreary grey morning light, as if to give the seasonal disappointment a silent voice.

Winter hovered, ready to descend.