Fall creeps in softly, with that month of little hints, teasing us with the cool evenings, refreshingly chilly nights, and the freshness of throwing open the windows. Then – finally! – the turn of the seasons is unmistakable, as the cool days are followed by cold nights, blankets are added to the bed, a mug of hot tea doubles as a handwarmer, sweaters and flannels replace lighter summer wear, and fall is absolutely here with a flavor all its own.
Summer’s flowers fade and autumn’s fruits ripen. Everything is shades of yellow and red and orange and gold, on a canvas of warm browns. The last of the sunflowers reach heavenward, not yet nipped by frost, resolutely clinging to the last of the warmth in the shortening evenings. Rosehips, the fruit of love’s flower, deepen in color, gold to crimson, glittering like little glorious jewels in the underbrush. If the flower goes unnoticed in the chaos of summer color, the fruit refuses to be missed in the fading grasses. They’re rather captivating, and I find myself stumbling across them on my walks and feeling compelled to photograph them again and again.
Leadplant, a subtle summer beauty of grey-green and grey-lavender, flames out in the fall, and brown hillsides erupt in splendor as previously drab shrubby things, unknown and unnoticed in the summer’s green, take on incredible autumn hues.
Western South Dakota isn’t known for its fall colors, not like places out east which are tourist destinations in the fall. But I love our autumns. I love those little stands of aspen and other hardwoods in the low places or burn areas that suddenly make their presence known. What we lack in quantity we make up for in the delight of coming up over a hill or around a bend and finding a wonderful display of color in the draw below or flaming on the hillside above.
So at last fall is here.