Embrace western Colorado’s autumn, a season for the senses
September 8, 2008
I watched a yellow cottonwood leaf float to the ground on Sunday.
Before it hit the ground, I knew that summer was over.
Living in denial for the past couple of weeks, I have tried to ignore the shorter days and the crispness that has crept into the mornings.
Clinging to the hope that summer would linger for a few more weeks, I have turned my eye away from the frost-riddled leaves of the cucumbers and looked only at the still vibrant onion plants.
It was a week ago that I could hear the unmistakable sound that leaves make when they are near the end of their annual trek in the summer sunlight. Photosynthesis for the year was closing up shop. It was the sound that we call rustling.
It was easy to cling to summer this year. It took such a long time to get here. Spring was filled with many false promises and winter kept its hold for far too long. When it finally arrived, summer was a glorious time. The abundant snowfall of last winter and intermittent showers kept the hills green far longer than normal. Though vegetables were harder to grow in the shortened season, flowers seemed to have an extra vibrancy in their color.
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It is time, I suppose, to embrace the special joys of autumn. As some might ask, “What choice do we really have?” We can either bury our heads in the sand or we can look for what makes autumn such a special time of year.
Already, there have been some glorious Indian Summer days. Crisp, clear mornings have led to warm afternoons. It is the time of year when sweatshirts and jackets get lost. Those outer garments are a necessity in the morning and then become cumbersome in the afternoon.
Removed for comfort, they are forgotten until the chill returns when the sun dips behind the mountains to the west.
As the arc traveled by the sun drops slowly into the southern sky, the resultant sidelighting lends a vividness to the color of the surrounding hillsides. That color is soon to explode as the leaves of the aspen trees transform the mountainsides into seas of yellows, oranges and reds. Sounds also seem to be more vibrant as they travel through the still autumn evenings and nights. Autumn is truly a season for the senses.
For me, the length of the days of summer become, eventually, a deterrent to the normal ebb and flow of a day. When it is light until nearly 10 p.m. the end of the day comes too abruptly. If a person succumbs to the temptation to spend every waking moment outdoors, it is bedtime by the time darkness brings a person indoors. There is no time to wind down, no time to engage in family banter, no time to reflect on what happened during the day. Summer has its purpose and the length of days allows for great accomplishment or either work or play. A year of summer, however, would remove from us the useful tool of introspection.
Autumn, for some, is the beginning of the most active time of the year. Hunting seasons have already started with the sliding, gliding and sledding soon to follow. For those who love athletics on the local and national level, it is likely the best time of year.
Baseball and NASCAR are winding toward the conclusion of their seasons. Football has begun, with volleyball, soccer and softball joining the action at the high school level. Basketball and hockey players are starting to stretch out the aches of inactivity.
Embrace autumn. Take time to allow your senses to bring to you the vibrancy of the fall. It can be the best time of the year.
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