The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Bill Mead
Columnist Emeritus 

Autumn is the best time of year

The Overall Picture


Today, We Honor The Overall Man Classic Bill Mead

Reprinted with permission

Autumn doesn't always bother to warn us when it comes to Tehachapi abruptly. Usually it kind of sneaks in, but some years, summer ends with a sudden chill. I've gone out to my curb in my usual shorts to pick up the paper and quickly discovered we had moved into long pants weather overnight.

Having lived here a mere 23 years I don't fancy myself an expert on local climate, but I'll venture a guess that we'll have some hot days again before all the leaves are gone. I just hope we don't have a hard frost before my tomatoes ripen. Next year I won't plant them so late.

For some reason, autumn has long been considered the melancholy season. I'm sure that's because foliage shrivels, days get shorter and the breeze carries a message that winter is on the way.

True to my contrary nature, autumn has always been my favorite time of year. Having been raised in Iowa, that's understandable. Autumn is the only tolerable season back there in the heart land. Summer is hot and muggy, winter is frigid and endless while spring brings with it a sea of mud, not to mention an unpredictability that can drop temperatures as much as 30 degrees in one day. The mud is the worst. I'll put up with anything except that. I remember farmers driving into town in mid-April in what appeared to be mud-balls on wheels, with one tiny peephole in the windshield. Lord, spare me that again.

When I lived over on the coast I sort of lost track of autumn because seasons are all mixed up along the ocean. Summer tends to be cold and foggy but it gets better when fall arrives. My wife and I prefer to spend time in our trailer at Pismo Beach in the fall and winter, letting the flatlanders have the place to themselves in the summertime. I don't think they know any better.

I find that autumn in Tehachapi is the way it would be all year-long if I was allowed to play God. I like the balmy days and the brisk nights when it feels good to be inside, perhaps with a fire going. As much as anything I look forward to the time of year when a sport coat feels comfortable. That's not because I'm dressy but because sport coats have big pockets for all the junk I carry around. My summer clothes never have enough pockets in them.

My wife, who is a native of San Luis Obispo and therefore knows nothing about weather, still hasn't adjusted totally to winter in Tehachapi. By late February she tends to get grumpy. Then I tell her stories about winters in Iowa, which do nothing to cheer her up. But spring always snaps her out of it.

Besides, there's Pismo. Have courage.

If you don't know Bill: Bill Mead was the longtime publisher of the Tehachapi News, along with Betty Mead, his wife and partner of more than 50 years. Known for his keen wit, which could be gentle or scathing or somewhere in between but was often self-deprecatory, Bill's writing won him a wide following among News readers. His column "The Overall Picture" ran in the News for more than 25 years, and in 1999 he published a collection of his columns in a volume entitled The Napa Valley Outhouse War. His book is currently available for sale at the Tehachapi Museum for $10.

Bill had a remarkable mind and because of his intelligence, humor and appearance he was regarded by many as Tehachapi's Mark Twain. As Betty used to remind him, he was "older than the oldest Model A Ford" and his wealth of life experiences and rural upbringing allowed him to bring a thoroughly American, 20th century perspective to his reflections and musings on the everyday. Bill passed away in 2008 but his writing lives on.


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