Fall is for fun

By Matt Clayton - Guest columnist

It has been said that experience is the best teacher and experience has taught me many things. Without doubt, one of the things I’m most thankful for is my appreciation for the changing seasons and what they bring. Admittedly, each new season marks the passing of time indicating more of our precious life hours have crept by. Sometimes we notice, sometimes we don’t.

Yet, I have found that the joy of anticipating the distinctive characteristics of each approaching season is relished more and more with each passing year, and in my book, that far outweighs the negative effects of aging. Spring and fall are my favorite times of year, so my blood is up for the changes this coming fall will bring. For many it means the beginning of football season, for others the season premiere of their favorite TV series, but my focus is on what’s taking place in the great outdoors. I am already seeing many signs of the seasonal change; some you may be familiar with, others not so much, but I will share a few I have noticed in the last couple of weeks in our neck of the woods.

Now that Labor Day has officially come and gone, my sentiments are focused on fall and all that it yields. When I was a kid, I wasn’t too crazy about hearing the first cicada’s loud buzzing song in late summer, as it meant I would soon be heading back to school. All too soon, the good ole’ summertime was over, and the call of the wild was replaced by the song of an approaching school bus and the loud squeak of its air brakes as it rolled to a stop in front of our house in the country. The good news was, the grief associated with heading back to school was offset by the prospects getting ready to hunt squirrels with Dad and Grandpa — and a long list of other fun fall activities that took place on the farm, like hunting hickory nuts and pressing cider. Alas, times have changed but the kid in me still looks forward to things like the beautiful fall colors, cooler weather, and roasting marshmellows over a campfire on a clear, crisp, autumn evening.

The never-ending wet spring we experienced this year kind of reset my seasonal clock a couple of times, but the last couple of weeks I have been seeing some changes that tell me the shorter than average summer is almost gone. The Baltimore oriole that raised its young in a nearby cottonwood has returned from wherever they go in mid-summer for a brief visit before heading farther south. I’ve also noticed a lot of warblers coming through the area. They always stop to “work the trees over,” looking for bugs that help build up their store of body fat for the long trip to parts of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. A trip to Tawawa Park may be in order if you want to see a lot of migrating songbirds. — Don’t forget the binoculars.

We live in the country and the wild birds are especially busy this time of year. Blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, tufted titmice and a host of other songbirds are having a heyday harvesting a variety of nuts and seeds from trees and plants growing in the wild. Seasonal birds like a turkey vultures (known also as buzzards to many of us) continue to glide on the expanse of a high-blue late-summer skies looking for the next meal. But soon they will join the hummingbirds and venture southward looking for greener pastures … with fresh carcasses.

Our semi-resident family of hummingbirds are busy fighting over the feeders even though I put out two of them and spaced well apart in hopes the birds would behave and not be so greedy; it did not work. The hummers will stick around until the flowering plants are waning and then one day disappear. I love the fall but hate to see the hummingbirds go.

I notice leaves on the walnut trees, elms, and buckeyes at the edge of my little thicket are turning yellow in great numbers indicating summer is waning and the blustery, grey-sky days of November are just around the corner. Still there is a lot to see and do before the snow flies, and I plan to make the most of it.

I’ve been seeing a lot of grey squirrels lately, they disappeared for several months when my youngest daughter came back home to live with us for nine months while her husband was deployed in the U.S. Army laboring over-seas to preserve our freedom and Constitutional rights. When she came to stay with us, she brought her dog, a slightly trained, but well-behaved Border-collie mix that soon stole our hearts. Thankfully, her dog soon taught the grey squirrels, chipmunks, and other woodland critters to stay out of the yard and off the bird feeders. It had been a couple of years since our little rat terrier died and the squirrels had practically taken over, so the new kid on the block was a welcome treat. Had she been here longer, I was planning to teach her to hunt squirrels.

The waterline is low on the banks of the Great Miami River that courses its way through Shelby County. Fishing will be good for a while yet. The fish are fun to catch, but I won’t be eating them. I’m a catch and release man in this neck of the woods. I want them to be there for the next time around. Of course the fishing will take a back seat to the fall yard work that is surely just around the corner; better get that fishing in while there’s still time.

Fall officially kicks off on Monday, Sept. 23, plan to get outside and enjoy it as much as you can. You won’t be disappointed!


By Matt Clayton

Guest columnist

The writer, who resides in Sidney, is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer, who resides in Sidney, is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.