It’s that time of year that has me feeling caught in-between.
The excitement I felt with the approaching Autumn conjured up many thoughts of things I love about Fall–cool crispness to the air, pumpkins decorating lawns, farmers in the field bringing in the harvest, spiced apple cider heated and waiting in my mug, tree leaves magically turning into brilliant kaleidoscopes of color… Then I thought about what would be after Autumn, the inevitable coming of WINTER. And though I like winter, contemplating that season had me recalling different images–cold wind, scraping my truck windows every morning, pulling on the thick sweaters, coats, gloves, and scarves before stepping outside, tree limbs barren and empty of leaves, shorter hours of daylight… You get the picture.
Hence, my feelings today–I’m currently caught in-between. It’s late Fall. It’s not Winter yet. Most of the trees are already empty. Everyone’s rejoicing to be almost finished with raking their yard leaves! Yet at the same time, many are thinking, “I wonder where I put that snow shovel?” or “Wow, I wish it wasn’t dark so early!” or “Should I wear shorts today or a heavy jacket?”
Nature seems unsure what to do. One day it is mild, and sunshiny, the next it is cloudy, cold and blustery. As I look around John James Audubon State Park woods, again I see the confusion. There are mounds of dried leaves under my feet. The trees are done for the year and ready to go into their long slumber. Yet, the grass is still green, there are areas of plants that just keep growing, and moss on the tree trunks and logs is bright, bright green. Such a contrast! Such a confusing time of year this late Fall is! But nevertheless, I absolutely love hiking the trails in late Fall. Tromping through the leaves is fun, and I love that I can now see easily through the woods, with no greenery obstructing my view. It gives me a great sense of the topography of Audubon, with its hills, ridges, and valleys.
All my late Fall hiking has me looking forward to our first public hike of the year–a First Day Hike! Yes, that’s right January 1, 2018. A New Year’s Day hike along the trails at 10:00 A.M. I plan to come prepared for the weather, even if it’s a bundled-up tromp through the snow sort-of-day, or a lightweight jacket kind-of-day. You’re welcome to join me, I’ll meet you at the Museum.
Do you think Winter will be as confusing as late Fall?
–Lisa Hoffman, Naturalist & Program Services Supervisor at John James Audubon State Park