Do you refer to the coming season as autumn or fall? For me, it's fall unless I'm waxing poetic. My British friends refer to it as autumn. Perhaps I shouldn't mention it, but my daily visits to our back deck on the beautiful Saranac River are beginning to show signs that change is already under way. I can smell it in the air. Soon, we'll have to bid fond adieu to what has been one of the best summers I can recall.
A few weeks ago, Kaye and I noticed that the leaves on a tree across the river had already begun to change — subtly at first — then more boldly. Adjacent trees soon followed suit. As we watched, an occasional leaf fell and was carried downstream on the current. We traveled to Connecticut last weekend for baptism and birthday parties involving great-grandchildren and noticed early changes in mountain color. We might not want to admit it, but there are signs if we only take time to notice them.
We are seeing more ducks on the river. Canada geese are honking and flying low in the early morning and late afternoon, restless to begin their journey south. There is a morning chill in the air. As I wrote this last Tuesday morning, it was 51 degrees in Morrisonville and mere 40s were being recorded in Saranac Lake.
Our crop-strip garden is still providing us with ample bounty. Kaye planted one tomato plant apart from mine and other flowers and vegetables. Her tomatoes are bigger and redder than all of mine. Of course. I bow to her greener thumb. The BLTs for supper last night were much better than good. They were simply scrumptilicious. I know it's not a word.
A sure sign of changing seasons is to be found in the local stores. Halloween candy, costumes and decorations abound. I wouldn't be shocked to see Thanksgiving and Christmas things displayed in a few weeks. It would seem to me that I should be mowing the grass less often, but that is not the case, thanks to some abundant rains recently.
It took almost 10 minutes to make the rounds with my new lawn tractor last Monday. I took a good-natured ribbing after the last column about grass-cutting equipment overkill.
AUTUMN'S IN THE AIR
Another sign that summer is slipping away is less sweat during my morning walks through our charming community. I'm not sure I got much exercise, in any case, last week because of all the yard and garage sales. I was compelled to stop and chat with my friends along the way.
Does it make me sad to see the seasons changing? On the contrary, we're heading into the most wonderful time of year in northern New York. Remember collecting autumn leaves when we were school children? We traced them and pressed them and pasted them on construction paper. We saved them between the pages of books. We raked them into piles on the lawn and jumped into them. I don't know about you, but my childhood memories are keyed by odors, and there's nothing quite like the smell you find at the bottom of a leaf pile.
And, the apples. Oh, those marvelous McIntosh apples! See how they are changing colors and growing to maturity. Remember when Plattsburgh Air Force Base service people and many locals planned their vacations to pick apples in the autumn air? Not so much any more. But the apples are still famous and delicious and a sure sign that fall is here.
Let us not forget that we have less and less daylight with each passing day. On Sept. 23, we reach the autumnal equinox when light and dark are roughly equal.
The rays of our sun are directly overhead at the equator. It happens a few days later this far north, but who's quibbling?
There's another sure sign for me that fall is approaching apace: homemade pumpkin pie. My, oh my! Call the coming season what you like, but don't call me late for dessert. Have a great day and please, drive carefully.
Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the "Our Little Corner" television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.