The dog is shedding as in early spring and the mosquitoes and black flies are swarming and every now and then the sump pump hiccups, but trees are touched with color, specially the swamp maples, and pumpkins and apples are for sale along the roads. Early autumn ’08.

Early autumn and who is not thinking about the winter to come? The Farmer’s Almanac sent a lot of us into alarm mode. More firewood, damn the price. Insulate those windows, any price you want to pay between roughly $8.95 per window for plastic that will billow and belly through the season or $1,500 for cellular, aka honeycomb, shades – for very big windows to be sure. The search is on for a solution on the low side of in between.

Public radio pundits offered some suggestions for saving energy and fuel this winter, among them: hire a professional to evaluate your energy consumption, furnace efficiency, insulation, air currents and more. One suggested that hiring a pro could cut deep into the heating fuel budget; it was he, as I recall, who suggested walking around the house with a wet finger aloft to figure out where the drafts originate.

One strategy for saving on electricity much touted on air and in the Sun Journal’s special section is to unplug appliances when not in use and to turn off power strips (computers, TV).

I can do that!

But let my learning be your guide. Be sure the phone box is not plugged into the power strip. Our phone was dead for hours and hours.

Early autumn and too late for broccoli regrets. However, the loss of Rumford’s animal control officer bears marking. Paul Cayer, I learned recently, left the catch the critters post quite a while ago, long before this season’s woodchuck family started feasting on my broccoli.

(Anther good reason to break your fast very early at the Deluxe Diner: Everyone there knows this kind of stuff sometimes even before it’s fact.)

When I called the town office, Terri Palmer told me that people with nuisance animal problems should call the state warden’s office. Call today to catch next year’s woodchuck.

Early autumn energizes, and many activities are on the community’s agenda for the rest of September. Among the many, the River Valley Chamber’s business Expo, on for two days, Sept. 19-20, at Mt. Valley High. Google the River Valley Chamber for details.

The Healthy Communities Coalition’s hazardous waste collection at Region 9 and the Rumford Library Friends’ book sale are coming up fast. For details, call the coalition, 364-7408; or Rumford Library, 364-3661.

The PIE student exchange program is alive and well in Maine, with Ginger Snapp-Cunningham and husband John in charge. Orientation activities for kids and families took place in Carthage this past weekend. Watch for PIE students – and other exchange program participants – at Dirigo and Mt. Valley and follow their adventures in the Rumord Falls Times.

Erratum: A few days after the last “Valley Voices” column ran (8/26), a nice person asked me – we were in the Hanover Post Office parking lot – if “Dan” Gross of the Rumford Athletic Association lived in Hanover. Oh yes. Sure it’s Dan? He asked. After my friend drove away I realized he’d pointed out a mistake. But he didn’t tell me the correct name. Reminded me of the old “…that’s for me to know and you to find out.” I did. It’s Dean Gross, not Dan. Whoops.

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