I was born with a sense for the changing seasons, as was my dad. This is not too terribly profound a birthright, since Winter, Spring and Summer in Upstate NY tend to announce themselves loud enough for any local weatherman to actually make the correct call. The intuitive knack my father and I share is most evident when Fall is waiting in the wings, looking at her watch and tapping her foot.

OK, enough of your top-down road trip, nothing to do but nothing, swimsuits and margueritas by tiki torch light baloney, says Fall. You and your long, lush green days take a hike.

That seasonal conversation happened August 18th this year, while most folks were still under the endless-summer assumption that it was going to be just that. It came to me in the fifteen steps between our back porch and my car as I was leaving for work. The 8 a.m. light had changed. Not much, but enough. The sun wasn’t quite as high in our walnut trees to the south. And the air. Different. A sudden and subtle under-tone–like a new block of sharp cheddar or the first home football game–stopped me about half-way to my car. While our favorite season was still a few weeks away, Fall had spoken and the change would be forthcoming.

That evening I made the Fall call to my dad.

He answered the phone by saying, Did ya smell it this morning?
Sure did. Definitely ready for it to get here.
Yep, he replied. Hope you’re ready to rake all those walnut leaves too.

Ahhh the blessing and the curse of that extra sense.
At least I had a few more weeks of summer left.


Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, In the woods


  1. Mike O'Brien

    Matt, really nice reading this. I can empathize with what you’re saying. I felt those same things often enough that I’ve pretty much taken them for granted over the years; the drop in humidity, the “clarity” of the air when you breathe it, and the quality of light. Subtle things at first, so subtle sometimes it’s like the passing shadow of a cloud. And I DEFINITELY know what your Dad meant about walnut leaves, but then I always loved the smell of walnuts!

  2. Diane

    I love how clean the air feels and smells when it starts to get chilly. Definitely helps the sound of the local high school marching band travel on game day! The drum beat sounds like fall’s heartbeat! I love fall!

    • Fishingpoet

      Diane – Fall’s heartbeat…nice! Breaking out the sweatshirts already 🙂

      Mike – Thanks for the response! It really is such a subtle, but significant difference. Figures though that I now have more walnut trees in my yard that we did growing up 🙂

  3. It’s my favorite of all the seasons. And the reason I love to call upstate my home. There is something bittersweet about it all. Nice story Matt.

  4. Carmmal

    The Pac NW has been just on the cusp for a couple of weeks. Fall is my favorite season! I can’t wait to break out the long sleeves and the hot cider. This morning it finally happened! Its officially chilly! Great post!

  5. What a great way with words you have. I love the coming of fall and while I can’t put it into the same eloquent terms as you did, I sense that day- that ONE day in late summer when suddenly there’s something different, signaling that Fall is at hand. That day came a couple weeks ago for us in the upper left corner of the states.

    • Fishingpoet

      Thanks Kirk. So that means you’re up to your neck in salmon, yea? 🙂

      You got it Mark. We’re just shy of full-color here. The fire-pit is definitely getting a work out…

  6. Yes indeed, that first noticeable front of the Fall season. Low humidity, crisp air, incredibly blue sky, and maybe just a hint of wood smoke in the air from someone burning some oak or hickory on a camp fire, and the crunch under foot of the first fallen leaves of autumn. That’s good stuff…

  7. Derrol Hammer

    Takes a little longer to get to California, but yesterday I could feel it in the shake of the leaves. The poison oak is the first and brightest turn to red. And the sudden quiet coolness that comes when the sun drops behind the hills beckons me to stay just a little longer at the edge of the stream because soon the days will be too short.

    • Fishingpoet

      Always fascinating to me how the seasons present themselves in different parts of the country…thanks for sharing the left-coast detail.

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