Punctuated by long nights and scented by benign smoke and wet leaves, the period between first frost and December is my favorite part of the year. The furnace is pressed into service by 5 a.m., and I, now be-sweatered and -socked from rising until bedtime, begin yawning before 6:45 p.m., but the rest is a sort of everyday magic, from the perfect circles bored into the pumpkins by what I imagine to be a stout but agreeable-enough nocturnal animal to the prehistoric trumpeting of the sandhill cranes as they gather in ever-widening circles over our home before beginning their journey away from the prairie; from the slant of the afternoon sun on the living room floor to the color of the sky when I collect the mail; from best-of booklists to seasonal menus… I adore autumn.
I make no secret of my love for autumn. While I enjoy a lot of summer activities, I always feel a certain disconnect during summer. We’re culturally wired to worship summer, but I tend to keep summer at arm’s length. Warmth is nice, to a point; hot gets unpleasant. And there’s too damned much sunlight in summer! I know that sounds weird in our sun-drenched culture, but I like nighttime, I like moonlight and stars and the flicker of firelight when it’s the only light to be had. I don’t like sunrise before 7am, and I really really really don’t like that it’s light enough to read outside at 10pm.
No, I don’t hate summer. But I’m always glad to see it in the rear-view mirror.
Fall? The time of crisp mornings, earlier sunsets? When the winter stars start to peek over the horizon? The time of lovely flannel and sweaters and overalls after multiple months of boring shorts and t-shirts? The time of color and of apples? Of spooky tales? Of huddling around the fire, and not just sitting near it? Yeah, autumn is the stuff.
This year the transition has been significantly warmer than usual, and the traditional fall color hasn’t been its usual self to this point. By this point we’re usually “past peak”, but this year…heck, maybe we won’t even peak at all. But there’s still a lot of beauty out there.
Here are a few images from just the other day, taken at Knox Farm State Park and from the Mill Road Overlook in East Aurora.
From Knox Farm:
From the Mill Road overlook:
I live in a beautiful place, and this is its most beautiful time of year.