The Turning of the Seasons


Autumn in the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains


There is a distinct chill lingering in the air, one that stymies facial expressions into subdued smirks. That chill announces a period of oncoming change, none less than the switching of the seasons. Autumn is arriving. One can tell so through the senses.

Autumn comes once again to the temperate regions of the world, bringing with it such wondrous transitions not seen in milder climes. Though the environmental change is profound, it remains entirely cyclical and expected. We’ve seen this transformation before, we know the experience of it. Come early September, we wait longingly for its complete arrival. The transmutation of summer into autumn becomes a well-esteemed and anticipated annual ritual.

In the deciduous forests, leaves swap their productive green plurality of chlorophyll in exchange for the brighter hues of reds, oranges, and yellows that have lain hidden all summer. The hillsides now brag of their newly revealed adornments. Stiff breezes off land and water blow over the colorful scene with a mission to expunge the trees of their brightness; hoarse rattling resounds from the crisping leaves. Like the well-loved narrative, one knows the end result of this tragedy: eventually the biting winds will win, taking all the leaves from their hosts in the onslaught of winter. But one nonetheless watches the scene in suspense—will it happen today? In this breeze? Maybe, just maybe, this time around the colors will last.

As the chilling breeze steals away foliage, run and catch a falling leaf in your hand. More and more will follow. Hold the virgin leaves while they are still leathery, before the desiccating wind turns them to a crispy brown. Even on the ground the liveliness of the leaves continues their animation. Swept up in windy whirlpools, blown into piles against a fence. Dried to the perfect crispiness and heaped high on the ground, the leaves become the ideal frolicking ground.



The sloop Clearwater at an autumnal dock scene


Autumn’s cast of critters scurry along with the busyness of the season. For quite some time now, Canadian Geese have been making their great pilgrimages south, flying in their iconic V’s. See them stop along the way and listen to their travelling calls. In the forests, woodland creatures are making ready their nests. The humorous scolding of the squirrel seems to become more frantic in this changing weather; there is much work to be done to prepare.

The fruits of summer’s prodigiousness are ripening. Summer crops like peppers and tomatoes have long since been mortally wilted by the first frost. Hardy root vegetables, thick from a summer of growth, now find their way to local markets. Apples in the orchards hang heavy on the trees, lusting to be picked. In a field of desiccated weeds off in the countryside, bright orbs of orange bring color to the season; the pumpkin patch has risen to the occasion.

You can tell the arrival of autumn by the feel of the air against your face. Mornings are chilly. Maybe even the ground is covered in a fine latticework of shimmering white ice crystals. Gradually later each time, that low-angled ball of sun will rise in the eastern sky. Frost disappears as soon as the warming rays of morning sunlight hit. Later on in the day, the temperature becomes mild and pleasant. It’s tepid in the sun, but even the gentlest breeze steals away warmth so readily.

When that undeniable autumn chill is in the air, it’s time to gather close and gravitate towards the warm cozy places of life. Spend a night out by a bonfire. Your face and hands will radiate with heat while the rest of your body gets comfortably cold. Head inside and warm up by a fire with hot apple cider and fresh pumpkin doughnuts. Autumn is a time to spend close to others.

Cherish the days that are to be found in the turning of the seasons, for the eternal narrative of change continues on in the temperate latitudes. Already the harsh breezes of winter have hinted at their arrival. The first snow of the season has already made a brief but fleeting appearance. The fecundity of life is swiftly on its way to hiding for a long idyll. Winter will soon make the world appear calm and dead. But for now, the activity of fall abounds.


Posted on November 3, 2016, in Nature and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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