Just as the calendar shows us passing the autumnal equinox last week, it seems that nature is truly slipping into fall here in Minnesota. Our nights are getting cooler and the sun is lacking the heat it had even a few weeks ago. Yesterday morning we got up early to drive south to Wabasha, a town that sits right on the Mississippi River in the heart of the bluff country. The air was heavy with moisture and we drove through thick fog in places. As we were going to be helping some friends harvest grapes in their vineyard, we had been hoping for a sunny and warm day. When we arrived at their home overlooking the Mississippi River Valley we were still in the fog, but I was delighted to be able to divert my attention from the grapes to photographing their gardens. These fall-colored mums were in full bloom, and upon closer examination I saw that they were laced with the dew of this damp morning. The fog and low clouds eventually gave way to sunshine and a warm-enough fall day as we worked throughout the morning and afternoon picking grapes. The time passed quickly with conversation amongst friends, and our fingers and hands became stained and coated with the color and smell of the ripe grapes. By the time we drove home after a celebratory dinner preceded by a toast to the wine harvest, the clouds had passed and the sky was filled with a full canopy of stars overhead.
How quickly we’ve moved from late summer to fall! The weather change happened almost overnight, with cooler temps and much-needed rain settling into the area. Everyone was digging out their sweaters and jackets, and looking for cool-weather comfort foods to warm them up. With the season change it seems we all look to deeper, richer colors, as seen in the dark maroons and golds of the mums that are in full bloom in our area. Their colors remind us that the lighter shades of summer are past, just like the sun’s heat. But there’s great beauty in the fall too, and they’re a prime example. Soon the leaves on the trees will turn to the reds, golds, and oranges, and they will fall down to decorate the lawns and streets — one last blast of color before the white of winter settles in.