If you’ve walked into a store recently, you’ve probably noticed fall-themed decor. The presence of reds and oranges, pumpkins and apples, and an assortment of ghosts and other ghostly-themed decorations brings a range of different opinions about the time. As mid-August arrives, some are already calling for comfortable fall weather, while others are trying to hold out as long as possible into the last days of summer.
I am someone who wants to continue celebrating summer. I’m very happy with the weather and feeling at the end of August, especially this year. It was cooler at night, the sky was still warm, and I could walk around comfortably outside, and it seemed that it was finally raining.
I’m not a decorator either. A minimalist at heart, almost every ornament I own, no matter what season or holiday, is a gift passed down to me or from others. However, growing up, it was also easy to tell what was going to happen next based on my grandmother’s decor. As a kid, I went to my grandparents every day after school, and when it came to decorations, my grandmother was on the other end of the spectrum. She stocked up with more and more decorations for her house and lawn. Every season and holiday brings a new set of little things that change the feel of every space in the house.
However, if I look around and look beyond my desire for a little more time in summer, I see that nature is preparing for fall, just like many people I know. Plants begin to decorate, and cool nights drive animals to think about their fall plans.
Nature has its own way of decorating, and the decorations many people make or buy in stores often reflect what’s going on outside. Colors reflect changing plants and weather, and featured animals on pot racks, wall hangings and knickknacks tend to follow a natural feature or something new for that season.
Autumn is dressed in red, orange and yellow. Apples and pumpkins are ripe for entry into our stomachs and our garnishing choices. Heading into October, bats and other nocturnal animals help us decorate for Halloween, even as they prepare for winter.
Winter tends to be more finicky. Sometimes it is covered in soft fluffy white, sometimes ice cubes cover every branch and branch. Less appealing are the muddy, muddy grays that cover more populated areas in winter. Animals with white fur and feathers appear in snowballs, and greenery takes the place of colorful fall hues.
Spring consists of popular colors of purple, yellow and pink. Vibrant green plants emerge from the ground as plant sprouts. Baby animals are more common, especially furry ones, and birds sing, build nests and lay eggs.
Summer is sunshine, lakes, bees and butterflies. Here, summer is also poison ivy, mosquitoes and all the other buzzing insects. The gardens are grown with fresh fruits and vegetables, and the ponds are rich in aquatic invertebrates.
In late August, the seasons slowly change from summer to fall. I look around and see as many signs of this natural change as I see on store shelves.
As I drove home, some trees and shrubs had begun to change color. Every night, I hear more and more geese fly by and watch them land on Lake Chautauqua. They also congregate in large numbers on connected waterways. Even though the days remain warm, the nights are getting cooler. With red stripes on the apples on the apple tree next to the nature center, squirrels and chipmunks begin gathering food to prepare for the cold months ahead.
However, even with all this, bees and butterflies are still active, drinking nectar and moving pollen around. Mosquitoes and flies are sure to be around for a while, and even into fall the yellows, purples and pinks are here to stay. Nothing has changed overnight, but the transition can be just as fun. Every day can be a little different.
When I actually think about it, I find I’m a little reluctant to accept the fact that Halloween and fall decorations have hit store shelves. Personally, I’ll stick with it for a little longer in the summer, but I’d love to let nature lead the way, and I’ll simply follow.
The Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature. ACNC is located east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from dawn to dusk, as are liberties, bald eagles, and other birds of prey. The Nature Center is open daily from 10am to 4:30pm, except Sunday at 1pm. More information is available online at auduboncnc.org or by calling (716) 569-2345.