“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)
Well, another fall has come and gone. Oh, I know it’s just November 11 but that’s the talk I hear from a lot of nature photographers. It seems like for many the only thing good about autumn is the two to three weeks of beautiful fall foliage. Considering how spectacular those two to three weeks can be I kind of understand where they’re coming from—anything after that pales in comparison. Perhaps, but I’m not quite sure about that. I love photographing fall foliage as much as anyone else but I believe autumn has so much more to offer than just colorful leaves and reflections.
Where I live in western Kentucky we are well past peak fall foliage. Many trees are already bare and the rest of them will be soon. Even so, I’m excited because I know before long the great flocks of snow and speckled geese will be arriving at the Wildlife Management Area nearby. They will be joined by tundra swans and a number of other species that we do not see the rest of the year. The return of the birds is as much a part of autumn as the turning of the leaves.
Another thing I like about late fall is the new vistas that are available. When the trees are bare you can see into places and spaces not possible when the trees are covered with leaves. A walk in the woods takes on a whole new look and feeling in late autumn. The incredible patterns of tree branches hidden when covered with leaves in and of themselves become a wonder to behold. In some ways there is more to see in late fall than at other times of the year.
Upon reflection it seems kind of strange that so many people associate autumn primarily with colorful leaves. There is certainly far more to fall than beautiful foliage. Perhaps if we could remember this we would enjoy the season more. And that goes for each of the seasons. Winter is about more than snow, spring is about more than flowers blooming, and summer is about more than sunny days. The Creator has blessed us with so much to see, experience and enjoy throughout the entire year but if we are not careful we’ll miss a lot of it. I suggest we be careful…
(I took the pictures shown above near my home in Henderson County, Kentucky.)
I love autumn. During the long hot days of summer I start counting the days until fall arrives. I enjoy the cooler temperatures that come this time of the year but I especially enjoy the show nature puts on during the autumn months. I get excited when I start to see the foliage changing on trees. I know what lies ahead and eagerly anticipate the time the leaves will “peak” and display their awesome palette of reds, oranges, yellows and burgundies. After all, isn’t that what fall is all about?
If you happen to live in an area where there are plentiful deciduous trees you might be tempted to say “yes” but I hope you understand that when it comes to seeing Creation fall has far more to offer than just colorful leaves. There is so much more to see and observe this time of the year. Wildflowers may be more plentiful in the spring but fall also has its own delightful specimens. My favorite are the asters but there are others to choose from. During the autumn months you might notice birds you don’t typically see other times of the year as they migrate south. If you look closely perhaps you will also notice changes in behavior and looks in various animal species. Deer and elk, for example, experience the rut season during autumn and lose the velvet on their antlers.
During the autumn months the length of daylight diminishes significantly. You may even notice that the sun now sets in a different direction than it did a couple of months ago. An elder in my church has a home that sits on a hill overlooking the Ohio River. Earlier this year he asked me to come to his house and take pictures from his porch of the sun setting on the first day of each season. The first image I took was at the summer solstice. When I took the autumn equinox picture I was amazed at how much to the south the sun now set. I had not really paid that much attention before.
As we continue through the autumn season I encourage you to pay attention to all the changes you see happening around you. Don’t focus on the obvious alone. I often write about God’s two books on this site, the Bible and Creation, and would suggest that when we do focus only on the most obvious changes in nature it would be comparable to only reading the books of the Bible we like the most. There are lots of wonderful passages in the Scripture that people rarely read or take notice of. They miss out on a lot when they are selective with their reading. In the same way we will miss out on learning what God has to teach us through His book of Creation if we just pay attention to the parts we like the most. By all means enjoy the beautiful fall foliage this year but keep your eyes open to the other signs of autumn. There’s much more beauty to behold and lessons to learn.
(I took the top image at Breaks Interstate Park, the whitetail buck at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the sunset on the Ohio River in Henderson, KY, and the asters at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.)