Out of all the months of the year, August is my least favorite, even if my birthday is during this time. By the end of the Mercer County Fair and Horse Show each year, I am wishing for October to arrive. Cool mornings and beautiful days, these get me going even better than the first few days of spring.
Everywhere you look there are impending signs of autumn, but none are more prominent than the changes in tobacco fields. Lush green leaves of tobacco have now turned a pleasing yellow, signaling the time to reap the harvest. Personally, I’m glad I don’t have to work in the tobacco fields anymore, but I still love looking at a wonderful plot of the fully-grown plants.
As the weather has cooled, our air conditioner has been turned off and the windows thrown open. I love to have the crisp fall air blowing the curtains and filling my home with freshness. Having the windows open also allows me to hear the cacophony of insects alive in my backyard. For the past twenty years, we have been establishing a wildlife habitat in our backyard and there is nothing better than listening to the night sounds. Frogs, owls, crickets, and cicadas, they are music to my ears and my heart.
Another sight that I associate with autumn is an increase in spider webs throughout the landscape. With the cooler days approaching, we are experiencing more fog during the morning hours and the moisture from the fog is the perfect silhouette for spider webs. The moist dew from the fog helps the webs to sparkle like diamonds. I love taking pictures of spider webs when they are wet with dew because they look like bits of lace sprinkled around the yard. Also, I like those big yellow spiders that make their appearance in fall. They always remind me of Charlotte from “Charlotte’s Web,” not to mention the fact that they eat hundreds of garden pets during the course of the day. As long as I can see the spiders, I’ll let them remain to feast on the undesirables who try to eat my plants.
Falling leaves are a sure sign that autumn has arrived. Although the leaves haven’t started falling in mass yet, I know that the big “fall” is not far away. Leaves start falling rather slowly, first the old dried leaves that did not make it through the summer litter the edges of roads and lay limply under the trees. Then you have the spectacular colors long associated with autumn – red, yellow, orange. Finally, by the middle of November, the color display will cease and then the leaves will fall in mass. Most people see falling leaves as a major chore to be cleaned up; I see falling leaves as food for my yard and garden. Not to mention the leaves make wonderful compost.
Another sure sign of fall for me is the pinecones forming on my pine trees. I know this does not sound like a big deal to most people, but I have never had my own pinecones until a few years ago. We have two pine trees, which my husband planted about twenty years ago. These were end of the season discounts we thought would add privacy to our yard. These two trees have been a wonderful success and I have been rewarded with my own pinecones.
This year, both of the pines are hanging full of forming pinecones. I have enjoyed watching these natural decorations mature from tiny green nubs to pale green baby cones to full grown pinecones with all the sweet smells of the pins. I’m sure the newness of the pinecones will wear off in a few years when my yard is covered with them, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy nature’s wonders.
Fall is in the air again and I love every minute. Goldenrod and Ironweed are starting to bloom, ornamental grasses are waving their large plumes, and vegetable gardens are preparing for a long winter’s nap. It won’t be long until the frost is on the pumpkins. And speaking of pumpkins, it’s almost that time of the year again, too! Tobacco, spiders, and pumpkins … Oh my!