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Tis the season for a jubilee! I wonder, do I love fall because I get to celebrate my birthday, or do I love my birthday because it falls in the middle of my favorite season?
Being a Scorpio, I’m betting on the former. Then again, how can any wooer of the natural world not fall hopelessly in love with autumn?
Albeit, to those who rely on the outdoors for recreation, rejuvenation, and revelation, this avowal may come as a peculiar choice.
Fall is certainly the most sterile season, devoid of the luscious smells of chimney smoke, runoff, and sweet blossoms. The weather patterns are inconsistent and unreliable. Daylight steadily wans.
And, worst of all, the high country has too much snow for bare-ground adventures and not nearly enough for powdery endeavors.
With a nip in the air, fall unabashedly kicks off with the harvest moon. Previously hidden rocks and roots are suddenly exposed along creek banks. The next thing you know, you’re being captivated by long shadows and rich colors falling elegantly to the ground.
Assuming the first, and always unexpected frost didn’t blacken and shrivel the garden, a bountiful Rocky Mountain harvest awaits.
Rest assured, if you didn’t grow a garden, the excess from your neighbors and friends’ backyards will make its way to your door step or kitchen counter.
Aunts cook up flavorful jams, jellies, breads and pies, also to excess. Here, in the climate of a limited growing season, fall is our chance to actually consume the outdoors. We can nourish and satiate ourselves with genuine local produce instead of activity.
Following the inevitable annual summer mania, autumn offers harmony and tranquility like no other time of year. We’re not being pulled in a million different directions, trying to squeeze backcountry adventures in between barbecues, rodeos and festivals.
Autumn is the season of getting to wear a sweater every day but not having to wear a jacket. Schedules seem to open up and getting back to a consistent exercise routine is attainable. Stresses fall away with the swirling leaves.
Don’t bemoan the passing of summer’s adventurous prospects, or waste these precious weeks awaiting the day you leave for Big Sky.
Instead, capitalize on this annual opportunity to fill your tank. Sleep in and go to bed early; prepare physically and mentally for impeding winter escapades. Slim down before the hectic and calorific holiday season. Sharpen your edges and wax your bases. Catch up on all of the articles you’ve missed in Rock & Ice, Wyoming Wildlife, Outside and Orion. Or, better yet, reread some Thoreau, Leopold, Tempest-Williams or Quammen.
As you fall into bed this glorious Nov. 3, prepare to settle comfortably back into Mountain Standard Time and vow to embrace the shoulder season.
After all, it only comes around once a year.
Julie Davidson is the director of Learn Outdoors at Sheridan College.
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