Signs of the Season

Last Friday, on my way to work, I was stuck at an intersection waiting for a school bus on a practice run to figure out where he was going.

On Sunday I dashed into Office Max to pick up a binder for a project at home. There were many families in the shop stocking up on last minute school supplies.

This morning while I was chopping some veg for a salad to take to work for lunch I heard a flock of geese flying overhead.

Ah, yes - the signs are all there - fall is not far off.

When you think of autumn, what first pops into your mind? Colorful leaves? The smell of woodsmoke? Getting stuck behind a school bus on the way to work? The sudden predominance of yellow jackets? Blue jays returning to the feeders? Ooo - how about my favorite: cooler weather!

I cannot imagine living in an area where the changes in the seasons only exist on the calendar. Sure, we all have moments when we think “Oh, if only every day could be like today,” but in truth, I think we only really appreciate those “perfect” days because we have such a variety of days to choose from.

Already, however, I’ve heard people bemoaning the turn of the season, the coming of autumn. But to me it is one of the truly glorious times of year. One can appreciate the warm days of an Indian Summer because there are lots of cooler days just beforehand. And there is nothing that quite compares to the rich colors of autumn foliage - the reds, oranges, yellows, and even purples (well, a lot fewer purples now than there used to be, thanks to the emerald ash borer). We must collectively love the fall colors because they are on the shelves already in craft stores, grocery stores, and even clothing stores. It’s a time of harvest, of celebration - of pumpkin spice everything!

Out in the woods, savannas and grasslands around our county, we are already seeing the signs of autumn. The orioles are passing through, this time headed back south. Monarch caterpillars are gulping down final mouthfuls of milkweed before pupating and then making that long journey to Mexico. The daily drone of cicadas has dropped off significantly. When did you last see a firefly flashing in the evening dusk? Bats are starting to make their way toward their winter roosts.

For us at Severson Dells, this also means that the school program season will soon be under way. How exciting it is that in just two weeks our first groups of students will be arriving by bus or by car to learn the secrets of field and forest. For many it will be their very first time in the woods - and it is an honor for us to make sure it is a positive and rewarding experience.

What does the coming of autumn mean to you? Share some of your seasonal pleasures in the comments below. And don’t be a stranger - come on out and enjoy the season with us - we hope to see you soon.