Oh, its a long, long while from May to December/ But the days grow short when you reach September.
These words from September Song (Maxwell Anderson/Kurt Weill) are about one's life winding down like the seasons going from Spring to Winter. But they can be taken literally, too, for when we reach September the days are shorter; only a few weeks ago I could still read by daylight at 8 o'clock at night. Now, I can barely see out on the balcony by that time.
The real revelation comes in the day time, though. Today was the first completely sunny day we've had in some time and it shed a new light on what's been happening day by day in the great outdoors. Suddenly, there are a few yellow leaves on the aspens. Twigs with leaves still attached have fallen to the ground and are starting to look a little rusty. The sumac is blushingly red. I didn't see this happening in the clouds and fog that we've had for the last week. Fall is sneaking up on us.
I have to laugh at Minnesotans who think this is Color, though. They wax poetic with how much they love Autumn because of all the Color. It's like the scene in Crocodile Dundee when a punk in the subway pulls a switchblade and Dundee smirks, "That's not a knife. This is a knife." I'm from Maine. This isn't Color. Not by a long shot.
With the exception of the banks of the Mississippi and a few people who have deliberately chosen trees for the leaf-color-turning ability, this part of Minnesota just doesn't have the bumper crop of sugar maples that Maine (and the rest of Northern New England) does. There Mother Nature takes out her primary-color paint set during the warm, sunny days and apple-crisp nights of September and paints the maple leaves that Century-21 gold and ING orange and Target red. (Sounds like a set of soda-pop drink mixes from when I was a kid.)
Over the next few weeks I plan to spend some time on the parkways by the river; we might even be able to take a drive around the bluff country. I enjoy seeing the last, desperate barrage to keep the enemy Old Man Winter from advancing. It won't work, but it's breath-taking to watch.