Fall in Minnesota—it doesn’t get much better, does it? As we shift from the sweltering dog days of our waning summer, the cooling and crisping air brings a much needed sense of relief and excitement while preparing for another turn of the seasons. Cool and blustery winds, maple trees ablaze with the fiery reds of their changing leaves, crunching leaves beneath our feet, scampering squirrels rushing to bury every last nut they can find, migratory birds waving as they pass through again on their way south for the warmer winter … these are just a few of the markers of fall in Minnesota.
If you’re like me, this is one of your favorite transitions of the year. It reminds me of the remarkable adaptations of and connections between plants, animals—all of life on Earth. This marks my eleventh fall in Minnesota, and as I reflect on the years before in comparison to this year, there’s a marked difference in how I’m experiencing this season change: I’ve not only looked forward to it, but I’ve needed it. As we all work to adjust to the stressors and unknowns of life in the midst of a pandemic (among other great challenges), I find myself in need of clear markers of time—landmarks to help keep me grounded and less … lost. I’m finding comfort in this season change, and I’m finding myself paying closer attention to the subtle changes of the season. For instance, the way two younger maple trees in our neighborhood have already lost almost every single leaf and turned the most vibrant of reds nearly three weeks ago (in a hurry much?) while most of the older maples are still in their yellow or orange phases, or how it seems we’ve seen our last ruby-throated hummingbird at our feeders for this year.
My husband and I have started taking short hikes again in an effort to capture as much of this season as we can and slow ourselves down a bit after the hustle and bustle of summer. We enjoy noting the differences of season progression from one area to the next—even those just a few miles apart can be experiencing significantly different stages of fall. When we’re out hiking or taking one of our many daily dog walks, I’ve started trying to take note of those differences and track the changes, even if only mentally: “How’s this maple doing today—still orange?” “These milkweed seed pods are still green and soft!” “No dark-eyed juncos yet.”
As the season continues, I hope you can each find your own way to slow your pace and capture this season of fall. We’ve created a fall bingo sheet that we hope will help you in that effort. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to mark off every one of these squares in one outing, so try using it as a sort of guide through the season as the world around us prepares for the winter ahead.
We would love it if you shared your finds with us on social media using #BellOutside so we can join in your experiences. Have a glorious fall season!
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