Fall is the flip side of Spring. So, Heads or Tails, we win either way.
Yesterday, was the first day of Fall in our part of the world. Those of you who have read these newsletters for a while know that Fall is special to me. I like to embrace it with open arms, marveling at the daily changes in the light in the sky, the cooler weather, the changes in the colors of the trees and plants around us, and the miracle and wonder of the Fall bird migration. I used to debate with myself whether I liked Spring or Fall best, until I realized that in Spring I liked Spring best and in Fall I liked Fall best. It was a “win-win” situation for me, and I didn’t have to choose.
Unfortunately, at least for me, Fall hasn’t really felt like Fall yet. The late September temperatures have felt warmer than normal, and the trees in the neighborhood that usually start changing colors early haven’t started changing yet. It has also seemed as if we have had more extreme and wetter weather for much of these last few weeks. The coming of Fall has not really seemed like the coming of Fall this year. It has seemed different; strange; it has not quite felt like the Falls I used to know and expect. It has seemed a little off.
I was brooding about this for a while when I came across an article in Mondays’ Inquirer headlined, “What a Warmer Fall Means for Philly. The article confirmed my suspicions; this Fall has followed a slowly developing trend of warmer and wetter Falls in the region. One of the effects of these trends has been delays in when foliage start changing. Peak foliage time can be pushed back by a week or two, and for a state such as Pennsylvania, that could have serious consequences. 60% of the state is forest, and many areas depend on the tourist trade that comes from people traveling to rural areas to see the peak colors of the season. These conditions can also lead to longer growth periods for invasive species and can even delay the start of migration for some bird species. Scientists are now studying certain of these species to see if these changes in Fall conditions might affect their food supply and nesting choices. Nature is a system, and when something changes in one part of any system, it affects other parts of the system as well. And we are trying t understand what these changes may mean.
In the meantime, I will have to wait for some of my favorite neighborhood maple trees to change. I will be patient and keep my eyes out, and I will celebrate when it happens. I will also go birding tomorrow at Carpenter’s Wood and have a look at how this year's migration is going. Yes, it will be a slightly different Fall then I have known for a while. But it will still be Fall. And that will be good indeed!