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.
It was early morning when I launched my kayak into the lake. The smell of fireworks from the previous night’s celebrations hung heavy in the air. There was no wind, no movement; the fog had developed overnight and was now suspended low over the lake.
This is my favorite time of day – the after dawn quiet when the world slowly awakens, before the rush and hurry of another 24 hours. I paddled as quietly as I could, rustling up some ducks that were gliding through the lily pads. Someone had recently been sitting on this dock, throwing their fishing line into the lake, and hoping for a bite. The rod was left leaning against the bench but at the ready for the return of the angler. Perhaps that person was waiting for the fog to lift.
We’re slowly lurching our way from winter to spring, yet the transition is never smooth or straight. Our expectations (and our dispositions) soar when the sun comes out and starts to thaw the ice. The temperature rises to an unseasonable 60 degrees and everyone is smiling. The next day the thermometer drops back to winter, all that was liquid refreezes, and we know deep down that the “final” transition has not arrived. There’s snow in the forecast again tomorrow. This open water will likely freeze but hopefully the ice layer will be thin and ready to thaw once again when the sun returns and the melt begins anew.