We’ve just returned from a trip south to Missouri for a lovely family wedding. When we left our home in Minnesota the snow was flying and the plows were out clearing the roads. As we drove south the snow depth seemed to diminish with the miles and the sun would peek through the clouds as they were blown across the sky. A few miles later and we’d be surrounded again in a snow squall.
We crossed the border into Iowa and the scenario continued (actually, it continued the following day too!). I am always amazed to see the cleared fields outlined in snow. The geometry of the land becomes accentuated and so much more noticeable. In this instance, all those field lines are in a direct contrast to the roundness of the clouds. It’s a beautiful time to be out on the road and observe how the seasonal changes affect our view of the landscape.
The calendar continues to move closer to winter; autumn is almost out of our rear view mirror. The waterfowl have all flown south, the temperatures are dipping lower at night, the sun is hanging closer to the horizon, and the majority of leaves have fallen. The oak tree leaves that remain are a deep russet color.
We had a couple of days of calm winds, where the stillness of nature was delightful. As sunset neared, the winds dropped completely and the lake became like a sheet of glass. The sinking sun’s rays were a golden light and spread across the shoreline. Each tree seemed to glow until gradually the sun sank below the opposite hill and spread it’s shadow over the trees.
Soon the lake will begin to freeze. The oaks will drop their remaining leaves, and winter will settle in. It’s been a glorious, and longer, fall – nothing to complain about here.
Fall – a season that changes from day to day as we transition from summer to winter. It’s never an easy transition and yet we are surprised with the temperature and weather swings. Just as we were reveling in the beauty of the fall colors we woke up to a wintry snowfall a week ago. It powdered the tree leaves with white, accentuating the yellows and reds and reminding us of what lies ahead. The air was quiet with the sound of the falling snow, and the temperatures were still mild. The waterfowl that were here didn’t seem to mind although many have already begun their migration south. By early afternoon the snow had melted, and a few days later we were enjoying sun and the warmth of the 60’s. But this short snow was our reminder of the approaching winter season and the beauty that will come with a landscape covered in white.
As summer fades in the north we are treated to a burst of vibrant fall colors. It’s a feast for our eyes – our senses absorb the colors and try to soak them all in. The blue sky seems bluer and the contrast with the reds, oranges, and yellows of fall grab our attention. It is sometimes breathtaking and even overwhelming, but glorious none the less.
The peak of these colors is lovely, yet fleeting. The intensity changes daily and the colors quickly fade and become muted. And then one day the wind blows and the leaves that had been clinging to the branches since spring let go and carpet the ground with their diminished hues. It’s a ritual that we know happens – a reminder that all things change, and that the snow will soon be ushering in our winter season.
Summer has begun its wind-down. The daylight hours are dwindling, the sun is lower in the sky, the leaves are drying, and some of the birds have already begun their journeys elsewhere. Our colors are starting their change to the deep reds and oranges of fall. So I set out in search of a “last” color of summer and found these Lindley’s asters blooming with their final hurrah, valiantly reaching up to the sun’s warmth. With our lowering night-time temperatures they too will soon be fading into fall’s colors.