It was Aug. 18 this year. That was the day the question was first popped.
The man responsible, Gene, is a specialist in the fisheries area of the Wisconsin DNR and works a great deal in the Spooner area. The question he asked me, "Have you noticed the colors changing, yet?"
Before I could open my mouth to respond, his wife, my niece Lara, broke in to chastise, "Would you stop doing that? You do that just to make me mad!"
It seems Lara isn't quite ready for fall. Or, perhaps, she is like many others I've come across that would rather the autumn colors wait as long as possible to announce that winter is not far behind. And it appears she feels Gene brings up the subject just to remind her that the seasons will not change according to her schedule but will remain true only to Mother Nature.
A green moss and at least two kinds of fungus gave this dead stump new life near Longville.
I admit that if I'd had an opportunity to answer, I would have said that I'd been trying not to notice the yellows and reds popping up periodically in the landscape. My reaction to the first few yellow leaves I saw was that those poor plants must have been dying from the dry weather.
Soon I couldn't deny that a few nearby aspen and birch were more yellow than green. It wasn't long before a number of maple trees burst out of the flat green backdrop sporting bold red attire to announce the new fall fashion.
The changing colors energize me, and I look forward to autumn. There's something fresh and bright about the continuous surprises in my daily scenery. On my drives from Longville to Brainerd, Crosslake and Walker, I begin to watch for new hints of color in the treetops and near the ground in the ditches.
Before Gene said the words out loud, however, a voice in the back of my brain nagged that it was too soon for fall colors. It was as though if I kept it to myself it wasn't really happening.
Now that Labor Day has passed, however, it seems that Nature's schedule is coming together and it's safer to say the words out loud. "The colors are changing," and fall is on its way.
Summer is a busy time: full of travel, festivities, sunburn and mosquitoes. Now, however, swimmers and fishermen are turning their attention to football and hunting seasons. Gardeners are picking cucumbers and corn while waiting for pumpkins and squash. Berry pickers freeze and can as they look to next year's raspberry and blueberry crops.
The days are getting cooler. Students of all ages are returning to school. People are talking about closing up cabins, and summer is coming to a close once again.
(Diane McCormack is a correspondent for the Brainerd Daily Dispatch and a freelance writer living in north central Minnesota. Send comments or feedback to email@example.com.)
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