If you’ve stepped into a store lately, you’ve probably noticed the advancing fall-themed decorations. The appearance of reds and oranges, pumpkins and apples, and an assortment of ghosts and other haunted decor brings with it a range of differing opinions about the timing. When mid-August arrives, some people are already clamoring for cozy fall weather, while others are trying to hold onto the last days of summer as long as possible.
I am someone who likes to keep celebrating the summer. I am very satisfied with the weather and the feeling at the end of August, especially this year. At night it is cooler, the days are still warm enough to romp outside and finally there seems to be some rain.
I’m not much of a decorator either. A minimalist at heart, just about every decoration I own, for any season or holiday, was a hand-me-down or a gift from someone else. However, growing up, it was also easy to see what was to come based on my grandmother’s decoration. As a child I went to my grandparents every day after school and my grandmother was on the other end of the spectrum when it came to decorations. She has an ever-growing supply of decorations for her home and lawn. Every season and every holiday brings with it a new set of trinkets that transform the feel of any space in the home.
However, when I look around me, beyond my own desire for some more time with summer, I see that nature is getting ready for fall, just like so many people I know. The plants begin to decorate and the cooler nights prompt animals to think about their fall plans.
Nature has its own way of decorating, and often the decorations that many people make or buy in the store reflect what is happening outside. The colors reflect the changing plants and the weather, and the animals depicted on potholders, wall hangings and trinkets tend to follow that season what is remarkable or new in nature.
Autumn is draped in red, orange and yellow. Apples and pumpkins ripen and find their way into our stomachs as well as our decorating choices. In October, bats and other nocturnal animals help us decorate for Halloween, even as they prepare for winter.
Winter is often pickier. Sometimes it is covered in soft fluffy white, sometimes the ice is glassy over every branch and branch. Slightly less appealing is the muddy, muddy gray that covers the more populated areas in winter. White furred and feathered animals appear in snow globes and greenery takes the place of the colorful autumn hues.
Spring is made of color accents of purple, yellow and pink. Vibrant greens emerge from the ground and appear as plant buds. Baby animals are more common, especially the furry ones, and birds sing, build nests and lay eggs.
Summer is sunshine, lakes, honeybees and butterflies. Around here summer is also poison ivy, mosquitoes and all other buzzing insects. Fresh fruit and vegetables grow in the garden and aquatic invertebrates erupt en masse in the ponds.
At the end of August, the seasons change slowly, step by step, from summer to autumn. I look around and see as many signs of this change in nature as I do on a store shelf.
As I drive home, some trees and shrubs are already starting to change color. Every evening I hear larger and larger flocks of geese flying overhead and see them landing in Lake Chautauqua. They also gather in larger numbers along adjacent waterways. The nights become considerably cooler, even though the days remain warm. The apples on the apple tree next to the Nature Center have red stripes and squirrels and chipmunks are beginning to gather food to prepare for the colder months to come.
But even with all this, the bees and butterflies are still active, drinking nectar and moving pollen. The mosquitoes and flies will certainly be around for a little longer and there will be yellows, purples and pinks even in the fall. Nothing changes overnight, but the transitions can be just as interesting. Every day will be a little different.
When I really think about it, I find myself, somewhat reluctantly, accepting the fact that Halloween and fall decorations have made their way onto store shelves. Personally, I’m holding onto summer for a while, but like to let nature lead the way and just follow.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between humans and nature. ACNC is located just east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from dawn to dusk, as are Liberty, the Bald Eagle, and other birds of prey. The Nature Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except on Sundays, when it opens at 1 p.m. More information can be found online at auduboncnc.org or by calling (716) 569-2345.