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COLUMN: 'Tis the season for fantastic fall colours, fresh air

For autumn freaks, now is the time to take a wander, kick up some leaves, click a few pics, hold hands, breathe deep, and simply enjoy life, says columnist
Leaves in a puddle in the area of Geneva Park. Fall is upon us in all its splendor.

For some people (perhaps you're one of them), autumn is considered to be the best season of the year. Reasonable temperatures, a pleasing splash of colour in the landscape and, best of all, no hordes of biting insects. Practically perfect in every way.

There are those (and maybe you're one of them) who claim that, through various aches and pains, they can predict the coming weather, the anticipated dates of leaf colour change, and when the next hurricane will pass through.

All I know is, book your fall vacation for either the last week of September or the first week of October; otherwise you may be walking trails that are still quite green, or barren and leafless.

Oh sure, some years the colours peak earlier, and in other years later, but to be "guaranteed" of viewing some spectacular colour, you have that two-week window. Despite the “unusual warm spell” we have had here for the last three weeks, it looks like the colour change is right on schedule. Nature knows.

Those who hunt small game or ducks (and you may be one of those; a hunter, I mean, not a duck) know all about fall colours. It's as if the opening day has been set to coincide with the colour change. And many hunters know that a day walking in the fall woods is a day well spent, whether or not a shot is even fired.

But not everybody hunts (ah, maybe you're one of those), so a visit to a park or a nature reserve may be in order. I used to advise people to take along lots of film on an autumnal outing, but in this digital age the message is now, "ensure all batteries are fully charged, bring lots of extra batteries, and pack an extra meg or gig of storage disc." 

Autumn is perhaps the most romantic season of the year, as you often need someone to snuggle up with on a chilly evening, yet aren't feeling completely frozen. A small campfire, a couple of chair pads, chickadees calling from the treetops… I'll bet you wish you were one of those people, if you're not one already.

Depending on where you are at any given moment, the best view of fall colour could either be a sweeping panoramic view from a high vantage point, or a slow drive on a rural roadway that is swaddled by overhead branches that embrace one side to the other. 

And there are those (are you one of us?) who can find all of autumn's glory in a single leaf, a leaf that has fallen upon a bed of moss, surrounded by a fringe of lichen, highlighted by sunlight reflected through an array of tiny water droplets. Yep, doesn't get much better than that.

Even the lowly mushrooms have their glorious time of year, and that is right now. A short walk through a hardwood forest will yield a dozen species, some large, some small, some colourful, others just a wonderful blend of earth-toned pastels. 

The character of autumn is that of beauty and comfort. Even though you know that there is work to be done in preparation for winter, you will make time to pause and reflect upon hearing the garbled calls of a passing flock of geese, or upon viewing the absolutely exquisite display of crimson leaves on the single maple in your neighbour's lawn. 

Spring has its wildflowers, summer its warm temperatures, winter its stark beauty, and, amazingly, some people do prefer these other seasons (heavens, you're not one of those people, are you?).

For those of us who are 'autumn-freaks' (I just made that up), well, now is our time, the time to take a wander, kick up some leaves, click a few pics, hold hands, breathe deep, and simply enjoy life.