If you read the calendar, it has a nice, neat date on it that says “Fall begins now!” But like everything in life, things are never so neat as we want them to be.

Where I live, the ‘official’ first day of Fall was a warm, sunny day that was no different than the one before it. None of the chill of a true Fall day, not even a bit of nip in the air.

Today…oh, today was a true Fall day. The air was chill, even at ten in the morning, and the sky filled with rushing gray clouds broken by only an occasional patch of blue. Below those clouds, small flocks of geese cruised about looking for feeding grounds while odd strays squawked frantically for attention as they strove to catch up to the main group. Soon they will join the truly massive flocks as they fly away to the South, leaving only the fortunate few who find a body of water that doesn’t freeze over.

The trees have yet to get the news of Fall’s arrival. Their leaves are still hale and green, with no real sign of the coming burst of color that will mark their death. Soon, though, the trees will begin their slow change to cool weather mode, and the leaves will put on their annual show.

Some find Fall a depressing time, a preview of Winter, the season they see as the season of death and endings. I find Fall to be the most invigorating of seasons. Summer’s heat is oppressive, and Spring brings the mad rush of growth every person with a lawn curses. Winter, with it’s snow and cold, is a season of constant annoyances. But Fall, even with the need to clean up leaves, is the season when the mower can be parked more than pushed, when every day isn’t spent wondering how much higher the weeds you can’t get at will grow.

And for all the trouble cleaning them up can cause, the Fall’s show of leaves is a thing to be celebrated. Perhaps this year I will do something I have done of in the past and take a drive along Route 2. For those of you who don’t know it, this state road winds along the banks of the Rock River for miles in the small valley that body of water has carved for itself over time. If you have the free time, it’s worth the drive to get to Dixon and follow it north and east as it takes you through Oregon and Byron to Rockford.

So enjoy Fall. Take in its beauty, and remember it as Winter closes in. It’s Nature’s final gift, our last chance to enjoy being outside before doing so requires more clothing than anyone can wear in comfort.

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