The President of the Old Doe Hunters Association enjoys a good September stroll. He’ll often carry his shotgun with him, may even remember shells. But mostly he just likes to gauge the season. “You can tell what kind of winter it’s going to be if you pay attention to the first days of fall,” he’ll say.
He hasn’t accurately predicted a winter in the 46 years I’ve known him, but I assume he’ll get better with practice.
It is a bit of a rite, this sniffing of the September air. Even as a boy, standing at the bus stop, hoping no one would want to beat me up today, I would often stare toward the clouds and take in the smells. Once I cut through the various odors that emit from teenagers, I really could catch the scent of autumn. I could picture the jetstream rising through Canada, touching the Arctic ice, then dipping back down through the U.S. and ruffling the fabric of my $5 shirt mom bought from the Navy Exchange.
Times haven’t changed much. Autumn’s arrival still thrills me unlike no other season. If I had my way, kids would go to school through August, then get September through November off. The grandest season is short enough as it is. To spend six hours a day trapped in a classroom while the leaves grow yellow and crisp borders on abuse.
Even in Michigan, most state parks stay open through November (the deer hunters would otherwise protest). And the private campgrounds near the tourist attractions are still in full swing and darn near empty on the weekends. We’ve enjoyed the Frankenmuth Jellystone almost completely to ourselves in November (Frankemuth–think tourist trap with an Old German theme and Bronner’s World’s Largest Christmas Store).
No, this is not the time to settle in and await the winter. The days are fleeting. The grass only needs mowing once a week now. The tomato harvest is almost over (30 plants…what was I thinking?). You’ve got time to catch a few breaths of the approaching fall. Turn up the campfire and pull someone close. Steal a kiss then steal her ‘smore.
The season is short. Life is shorter. Go into the fall.