Several years ago when I was busy with work, a whole season had gone by and I barely noticed. Being in nature has always been fundamental to my happiness and I wasn’t paying attention. From then on I made a point to be present to my outdoor environment.
Autumn is my favourite time of year. Even though technically it has just begun, I have heard people over several weeks begrudgingly state that summer was already over. With the persistent heat in southern Ontario, I wondered if summer was ever going to go away! Hunkered down in my air conditioned office, I realize I have ignored much of September.
Knowing that it will be some time before the days of wearing flip flops and feeling hot sun on my skin will come around again, I decided to step out on to the city street. Instantly I was greeted by blustery winds and the smell of high humidity. I paused to turn my head toward the sun and I inhaled deeply. Wondering how the nearby forest was coping, I headed into the ravine for a walk.
I noticed that although the leaves on the trees were mostly still lush and green, the bush appeared thinner and there were many crunchy tanned leaves on the ground. I could only see one maple tree holding scant evidence of changing colours. Is nature holding its breath or perhaps is it going about its routine, regardless of temperature.
As I walked further down the path I was greeted with many other colours. I found staples of late summer such as golden rod, rich purple michaelmas daisies and a variety of white and pinkish asters. I also found some remaining chickory (soft lilac) and a yellow and white ‘butter and eggs’. Many bushes had dark red branches and in the marsh area, there were hundreds of dark brown cattail flowers.
I heard a rustle low in the brush and it was a hairy woodpecker and a grackle, together, bobbing about. The Spring time cacophony of red winged blackbirds is long gone, replaced with gentle whispers of reeds waving high above my head. Suddenly I heard the shrill sound of a cicada! What a surprise to hear one this late, having already noted the carcasses on the path. A monarch butterfly drifted down onto a shrub, sleepily pumping the air. It allowed me to watch up close and I was mesmerized. Is it on its way south?
For another 20 minutes I enjoyed strolling through the ravine before completing the route to the city sidewalk. It was time to go back to work. My skin felt hydrated, my shoulders were relaxed and I felt ready for my afternoon meeting. I was smiling from ear-to-ear! There is something deeply satisfying about noticing change and I listen to the wind to tell me what’s next. Cooler temperatures coming this weekend. Welcome!