Fall is a time to recondition your raingear, as well as your mind. The changing colors of the leaves are a signal to nature to begin preparations for winter. While some of us are caught up in the consumption of pumpkin-spiced lattes and Halloween costumes, fall has special meaning to outdoor enthusiasts.
Escape the noise of everyday life and pay homage to the tie-dyed kaleidoscope of deciduous trees that paint the landscape of public land. The Smoky Mountains National Park website has an amazing Fall Foliage Forecast Map that allows you to slide a chronological scale to display peak times for peak colors in your area. This could be your last chance to store some vitamin D from the sunshine with the coming of cloudy days — take advantage of it.
As the leaves turn and you begin to dread the chores of raking, blowing and mulching your lawn, keep in mind that wildlife geeks such as David Mizejewski of the National Wildlife Federation actually recommend that you leave them on the ground where they fall.
“A leaf layer several inches deep is a natural thing in any area where trees naturally grow,” he said. “The leaf layer is its own mini ecosystem! Many wildlife species live in or rely on the leaf layer to find food and other habitat.”
What a great excuse to skip that chore and enjoy the outdoors beyond the perimeter of your immediate surroundings. Do it for the critters!
The late Greta Wrolstad’s poem Fontaine de Vaucluse says, “The season of rain is coming, hold out your hand.”
Fall is harvest season, and not just for farmers. Deer and elk hunters are packing their freezers, duck hunters are hoarding a few birds for making sausage, while salmon fishermen are filling up their smokers. Mushroom hunters are plucking fungus from the forest floor, while other foragers are focusing on the last berries that are ripening at the end of summer.
If you’re hoarding the remnants of previous harvests, now is a good time to start rotating your stock and burning through it to make room for more. While the weather may not be dependable, one thing that remains reliable is the inevitability of change. Make the most of your days and enjoy the seasonal bounty. The harvest season is a season of abundance, and it’s abundantly clear, that fall is the best season.
Top image by Dave Maas; other photos by Randall Bonner