Welcome Autumn

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I was walking down the road this morning and noticed the fields were full of vegetation going to seed. I thought about the seasonal cycles and how nature knows when it’s time to wrap up one and begin the next. The fields and forests have no calendars or smartphones to alert them of the changes. They just do what they’ve been doing since the beginning of time. It’s something they never tire of, toss aside, or question. Their obedience to the natural flow of things is a reminder that no matter how much man claims dominance over the earth, nature still rules.

Timothy grass going to seed

While I walked, I heard geese honking as they flew south. Seeing them brought memories of my youth when the sky was dark with hundreds of honkers flying in their V-shaped formation. What a difference time and man have made in the natural flow of things. Now geese no longer fly together by the hundreds. They’ve learned it’s safer to fly in smaller skeins. There’s less chance of being shot.

There’s something wonderfully amazing about geese. When one stays behind due to illness or a wound, another goose will stay by its side until it gets well or dies. Perhaps that’s why sometimes we see only one goose as it flies solitary in an attempt to catch up with the others. The instinct to remain faithful to the end is a rare quality in human beings, but it is deeply ingrained in the mind of a goose.

The calendar on my desk tells me autumn has been with us for three weeks. Without much fanfare, it nudged summer aside and was barely noticeable to folks who reside in climates with consistent weather but plainly obvious for those of us in the Upper Peninsula. Soon leaves will drift from the limbs of deciduous trees. Tamaracks will put on their golden display once the leaves of maples, birch, oak, and many other trees have blanketed the ground. Birdfeeders will be filled with sunflower seeds as chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, mourning doves and other winter birds reappear. Squirrels will gather pinecones and acorns and stack them in various places around the yard or in the garage. Bears will seek out the last of the berries and find a place to spend the winter. Rodents will burrow underneath deserted buildings.

Rodents will overwinter here

October is a reflective time for me. Many years ago, the previous month robbed my daughter of her grandfather, my Dad. Stephanie missed rides on the tractor, helping him with minor chores, and putting the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle in place. He was given such a short time to love her and given no time at all to tell her about life on the farm. He wasn’t here for her first birthday, having passed away six weeks prior to it. Dad slipped from us as silently as one season gives way to the next.

And so it goes as. Changes occur, sometimes welcome, sometimes dreaded, and the cycle of life—whether nature or human—continues. We marvel at the beautiful autumn leaves that turn our world into a kaleidoscope of red, orange, rust, and yellow. The colors beckon us from the comfort of our homes and the trappings of modern technology. For a brief time, we drive down roads where canopies of sugar maples meet overhead and transport us back to the days of our youth. We recall searching the woods for the biggest and best leaves to gather, bring home, and wax for a school project.

As I write this, the late afternoon sun is filling my room with an orange glow as it filters through my drapes. The faux lace curtains leave patterns on my desk and the floor. I follow the shadow created by the branches of spruce trees as they move across my room. The day is slowly coming to an end as the sun sinks lower in the sky, making room for the dark that is always there only hidden from our sight.

Autumn in Downtown Detroit

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