Fall the most colorful of the seasons

Published 2:58 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Today is the first day of autumn. Summer has now left the room, even though some signs of it remain. And, with some cooler nights in the forecast, it will feel more like fall.
However, it is a season full of richness and new beginnings. It is still warm enough to take advantage of the full array of outdoor activities, but not too hot to make for unbearable conditions.
And now there is a rising drumroll of warning about winter infection rates, invitations to get flu shots, and last but not least, rocketing heating costs.
So much of our approach to the season in literature and music has a dying fall: “Nothing old can stay,” as Robert Frost puts it. There are signs of autumn everywhere: the geese honk across the sky, and the hummingbirds are few and far between as are the butterflies of summer. The mornings are darker and evenings shower – one definition of autumn is that it begins on the equinox, Sept. 22, when dark and light are equal.
In the few new weeks, the leaves will begin to turn colors and we are living in an area which is among the best to view the transformation. Trees are plentiful and the vibrant colors they will soon produce can be viewed everywhere – from downtown Elizabethton to rides in the mountains, especially around Watauga Lake and in the Tiger Valley and Ripshin Mountain areas. It is a time that draws tourists from great distances to marvel at the sight.
It is the season of apples, pears, pumpkin, squashes, all the grains, and, oh yes fodder shocks. The ultimate celebration of the season in English is arguably Keats’s To Autumn – “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun” – which was written after a Sunday walk in harvest-time. “How fine the air,” he wrote to a friend. “I never liked stubble-fields so much as now – Aye, better than the chilly green of the Spring. Somehow, a stubble-field looks warm – in the same way that some pictures look warm.” There is something about noting that contradiction, between stubble and warmth, the simultaneity of death and life, the days dwindling down to a precious few, that catches at the essence of this time.
Sports fans can enjoy baseball and football at the same time as the World Series will wind down baseball. Fans of all things frightening can gear up for Halloween, something many now do weeks in advance of the October 31 dates. Soon as September turns to October, yards will be decorated with ghosts and goblins.
Alas, enjoy it while it lasts. By the time November rolls around, signs of winter will be evident. Outdoor activities will slow to a minimum as it’s hard to work them in during a day which includes just nine hours of daylight The nights will become frosty and the mornings and events cooler. Soon it will be time to switch the furnace from air to heat.
So, while you’re reaching for that flannel shirt, which is perfect fall apparel, you might want to dig out your coat, hat and gloves, too. Unless you’re a snowbird, you’re going to need them before you know it.