By Bruce Stambaugh
Ready or not, fall has arrived. It is an understatement to even say that the signs of autumn are all around us.
Even so, I couldn’t be happier. I love almost everything about fall. The colors, the cooler, less humid weather, the crispness of the air, the foggy mornings followed by clear, lustrous skies, the lulling sounds of crickets, and the rich, airy fragrances all captivate me.
On one recent morning, when the fog filled the lowlands long before dawn, I decided to take a drive around the countryside. I wanted to see what I could see, read autumn’s early signs like so many billboards. They weren’t hard to miss.
By the time I began my trek, the strengthening sun had melted the mist away, revealing a cloudless, deep blue sky, the kind you see in paintings, but seldom take note of when it’s right overhead. I wanted to put my busyness aside, and truly absorb all this glorious day had to offer.
It offered much. I rejoiced that I had traded my time for her blessed offerings.
If I looked close, butterflies zigzagged around the abundant autumn blossoms. They adored domesticated gardens and roadside wildflowers indiscriminately.
Lush fencerows of oaks, maples, ashes and sassafras seemed a tad thinner, losing single leaves with every pulse of the morning breeze. A few trees showed signs of succumbing to the shorter and cooler days. They blushed while their neighbors held fast, verdant.
Commercial businesses joined the celebration, too. Showy seasonal displays of mums, corn shocks, and pumpkins bedecked old vehicles or wagons or wheelbarrows in front of stores. Nature’s natural marketing had friendly competition.
Along roadways, streams and farm fields, remnants of summer’s floral display stood stark and brown, even before a killing frost. Winged insects and assorted animals would munch the seeds of this unsightly bounty.
The rays of the late morning’s sun created beautiful landscapes. Bright red barns, though not newly painted, boldly contrasted with the green, green pastures that surrounded them.
Many a farmer outside our area would love to see such a scene given their parched situations. Years of drought have taken their toll. I am grateful we have been under the extended cooling care of the polar vortex since last winter.
Like giant puffy marshmallows, large, round hay bales covered in white plastic rested side by side along outbuildings and edges of fields. It’s just one more reminder of how productive the hay harvests have been this year. It’s also good to know that the plastic covering can be recycled.
Migrating birds fall out of the morning sky to feed and rest in freshly mown hayfields, or in marshy woodlots. They’ll be off with the next weather front or a favorable north wind to help speed them on south.
Prudent caretakers have lowered and cleaned Purple Martin houses, and covered them for the season. Come the Ides of March, they’ll be spruced up and hoisted for their tenants return.
That may seem like a long time away with the fall only just begun, and dreaded thoughts of winter pondered. However, the older I get, the faster time seems to fly.
That’s why I wanted to spend this morning just seeing what I could see, before October’s steely clouds rush low overhead, spitting fat flakes. That thought alone makes me shiver.
If fall has a fault, that’s it. It leads to winter. Until then, I’m going to enjoy every minute of everyday fall sends our way.
How about you?
© Bruce Stambaugh 2014