Miss Autumn arrived a bit before her calendar date of Sept. 22 this year, bringing a definite change in the weather, with cooler mornings and evenings, as well as shorter periods of daylight. It’s that time of year when we begin to ponder when to close windows, turn on the heat or throw a log in the fireplace. It’s also getting closer to the date when we change from crisp cotton sheets on the bed to deep and snuggly flannel ones.

The recent rains have helped considerably, but the devastating and destructive forest fires in Oregon — especially those along the Columbia River Gorge and near Brookings — serve to remind us that even though the calendar says summer is over, the dangers still definitely are there and will be for quite some time. Despite our best efforts at prevention, fire can destroy our homes and our lives. This is a reminder that we all need to check the batteries in our smoke detectors — and get detectors installed if we don’t have them already. They are available at reasonable cost in our local stores.

I’m practically a cheerleader for believing in spending money in our communities and in Polk County, but this time I’m encouraging everyone to do something different. There are businesses in Cascade Locks and Corbett, and all through that area that have seen their sales drop dramatically because of the forest fires and closures of the Old Columbia River Highway and I-84. Why not take a road trip to the Columbia River Gorge before the winter rains and snows begin and find something to buy in the local stores, or stop in for lunch or dinner at some of the restaurants along the way. The firefighters worked so hard to save beautiful Multnomah Falls, and this is a perfect time of year to visit.

We’re so fortunate to have Western Oregon University right here in MI Town, and to be able to interact with students of all ages on a daily basis. However, it’s very easy to stay within our comfortable routines and habits, and not take the opportunity to find out more about ideas and attitudes different than those with which we’ve become more familiar. Thursday the Monmouth Public Library will host a free public event at 6 p.m., where we can learn more about how to engage in meaningful conversations and interactions with those from other generations. Jennifer Sasser and Simeon Dreyfuss will lead a discussion on aging and intergenerational friendship as well as other related topics. Please contact Krist Obrist at 503-751-0193 or email at kobrist@ci.monmouth.or.us for more information about what promises to be a great evening.

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