Friday, August 23, 2013

The Sound of Fall

It happens every year about now and most would miss it-one has to spend many hours in the woods to catch on and be reminded of what is to come.  It’s the sound of fall.  Not anything loud and in your face, like fall colors, but rather just subtle things that you pick up on and think-“ oh yeah, it’s almost here, autumn is around the corner.”

The subject came up the other day when good friend Butch McCumber and I were digging dirt, bench cutting a section of mountain bike trail on a hot humid summer morning.  Sweat had already drenched our clothes, arms were getting sore, but we’d made good progress.  Then it was there- high and unseen, a Blue Jay sounded an alarm call, having seen something of concern and letting the woods know.  Other animals can decipher that call and are put on alert.  Butch and I heard it and remarked- “fall is coming.” We both bow hunt and that alarm is one we hear too frequently, as the jays point out to every living creature- “There he is, there HE IS….THERE, in that tree…a man!” In times like that, we just want the raucous bird to just shut up, but in August, it’s a reminder that our favorite time of year is coming, one that will come and go too soon.

Squirrels will do the same thing, that scratchy-squealy alarm call peeking out from behind a trunk and then there are crows-forming their flocks and calling out in seemingly hundreds of curious vocalizations.  To us, it’s just saying the next season will be here soon.

There are other signs as well.  Already, white birch and butternuts are turning yellow and dropping leaves-alarmingly too soon it seems.  Daylight is barley showing itself at 5:00am, when a few weeks ago the day was awake and ready to go.  Sandhill cranes down the road, who were just fluff balls on stilts earlier are now lifting off with their parents.  Fall mushrooms like Black Trumpets and Hen of the Woods are showing up as well, but it’s those sounds that really signal to me what is about to happen.  It’ll be confirmed soon enough when nature mixes in the smell of fall-that dry leaf earthy smell as color begins to litter the forest floor.  At that time, it’ll be a done deal- Autumn is here- the sounds had predicted it’s arrival correctly and I’ll be lovin every minute of it.

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