Reflections on late fall

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.

The fickleness of fall

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.

A vibrancy of fall colors

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.

Late summer asters

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.

Riding the trail

We recently made a camping trip to Vilas County in northeast Wisconsin. This is an area filled with forests, lakes, and welcoming community towns. We took our bicycles with the intent of riding the Heart of Vilas Bike Trail. This 52-mile paved trail was a gem to ride. At times we were in the thick of the woods following a curving and winding trail, and at other times we were riding along the shore of beautiful lakes. We rode trail sections that were relatively flat and then we also rode some short rolling hills – perfect for gaining enough momentum going down to get you almost to the top of the next hill. We rode over bridges spanning streams and wetlands. We saw deer looking at us from within the woods and we saw turkeys crossing the trail. With hot sunshine and warm breezes we made a stop for ice cream (twice). On the second day the late afternoon clouds rolled in and the rain began, but we were under a tree canopy and protected from the heaviest drops. And as quickly as it started, the rain passed out of the area. It was a memorable trip and we’ll look forward to a return trail ride in the future.