Shuffle Season is that rare, all-too-brief time of year when the trees have dropped some — but not all — of their leaves. There is color in the canopy of leaves above and color on the ground and sidewalks below. And when you reach a stretch of leaf-covered sidewalk, the temptation to shuffle your feet through those drying leaves, to hear the rustle and crackle and crunch, and to kick some leaves into the air and let your inner kid loose, is irresistible.
I’m just old enough to remember when people routinely raked their leaves into leaf piles, let their kids play in the piles for a bit, and then raked the pile to the curb and burned the leaves. The authorities ultimately outlawed the burning, but I remember liking the distinctive autumnal smell of those burning leaves. The specific spicy smell is no doubt stored deep in my amygdala.
I’m too old now to play in leaf piles, but I can still enjoy Shuffle Season and those dried sidewalk leaves. You can, too.
We’ve had a few days where the overnight temperatures have dropped into the 40s. The leaves on the trees at Schiller Park are just starting to turn, and the mums are in their full glory. This morning the air was crisp, and it felt invigorating to take some deep breaths as I walked around the park.
If you don’t feel stimulated by autumn in the Midwest, there’s something wrong with you. It’s the best season of the year.
It cooled down substantially on Saturday night after a storm rolled through, and yesterday was delightful — bright and sunny yet brisk, with that first hint of the distinctive autumnal smell in the air that combines wood fires and spicy turning leaves and the blooming fragrance of late-summer flowers.
When those fall days come around it is open windows season.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m as much a fan of air-conditioning during summer and central heating during winter as anyone. But when spring and fall arrive in central Ohio, I relish the open windows seasons, when you can roll up those closed panes of glass, feel the inward rush of cool air freshening and washing through the interior of the house, and hear the faint susurrus of car doors closing, dogs barking, passersby talking, and children calling from the streets below.
We spend so much of our time penned up inside buildings and houses and cars. It is delight to let the outside world inside, now and then, and enjoy the cool of the evening.
Last Sunday Kish and I went out to the Lynd Fruit Farm Market in Pataskala to buy some farm-fresh produce, sausage, and cheeses. When we arrived, we were greeted by two sure signs that fall is upon us here in the Midwest: a flatbed of colorful mums, and a flatbed of beautiful pumpkins.
September is one of my favorite months of the year, in part because it’s such a colorful month, with the leaves turning, mum blossoms displaying their bright hues, and orange pumpkins appearing on doorsteps. As if on cue, the weather has taken a distinctly fall-like turn, too. Today our high was in the 60s, and the low tonight is supposed to get down near 50. Sweater weather!
September is, I think, the best month in central Ohio for weather. It’s usually dry and warm during the days and cool at night, and the first hints of turning leaves can be seen in the trees. In October, the winds come blustering and the rains come down, but September . . . September is just splendid.
We took our morning walk today and had a bit of a rude awakening. The temperature had dropped considerably overnight, our breath was visible as we walked, and our fingers quickly grew stiff and wooden in the cold air. The open areas of grass were coated with our first frost of the fall season, looking like hammered silver in the faint early morning light.
What could feel more like autumn than shuffling your feet through brittle fallen leaves and hearing them skitter along the pavement? The leisure path along Route 62 is a good spot for crunching leaves underfoot and remembering carefree childhood days spent leaping happily into dry and dusty piles of leaves.
The sugar maples in our neighborhood are in fine color, with their leaves a bright collage of scarlets, vermilions, and fire-apple reds. Even on a warm day like today, the changing leaves serve brilliant notice that colder weather is around the corner.
Driving through rural Ohio during the early autumn months is a festival of earth tones, with many farm fields sporting a rich golden hue. In the afternoon sunshine the meadows look like pools of honey set back against the border trees and their slowly turning leaves.
Fallen nuts accumulate on the leisure path along Route 62. As Penny and I take our walk it is not unusual to hear the nuts clatter against the pavement as they drop to the ground. You just hope that your head doesn’t become a target.