Look outside your window and you’ll find there are living beings to meet: plants growing between the sidewalk, lichens on stairs, insects and spiders by the mailbox, squirrels in a tree. Become familiar with these critters as subjects in themselves, make observations about them, maybe even give them a name...and become their neighbor.
Here in Central New York, we are fortunate to have so many different natural areas to explore. These include some very special birding hotspots, such as Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, which is west of Auburn on Route 20. The refuge is carefully managed with the needs of wildlife in mind, and it’s an important stopover refueling site for migrating birds along their spring and fall journeys.
Walking around the Baltimore Woods preserve, I’ve begun to enjoy the changing autumn leaves. Trees that were a vibrant green last week have hues of orange, yellow and red starting to paint their branches. Scientifically, leaves change color due to the breakdown of chlorophyll from a reduction in the amount of sunlight each day as the days become shorter and the nights become longer.
After moving cross-country from the deserts of California, I’ve experienced the drastic seasonal changes of Central New York. And during this transitional season of autumn, I began to wonder...why do the seasons change? And why are they so different across North America?
As the seasons change from summer to fall, I enjoy pausing to observe differences in the landscape and surroundings. Leaves change from green to gold, red, orange, and purple, birds depart southward while a new cast of feathered friends arrives for the winter, and the days and nights gradually become cooler.
Last week walking the trails everything outside was calm and quiet and all my senses seemed to heighten as I bumbled along. This moment in the season is a transitional time and I can sense it in nature and within myself.
The sights and sounds along the trails had changed dramatically since early summer and I felt like a newcomer to the forest. How easy it can be to forget that we, too, are a part of the natural world! So many things in our day to day life tune that connection out, but it comes back so quickly.
Do you remember those days when you were young? When it didn’t matter how wet you got, every puddle was an invitation to splash, your clothes soaked, eyelashes clinging together and your heart full of joy!
In my garden is where I find a connection to my food and an appreciation for the gifts of nature that make it possible for plants to grow. The sun, rain, bees and other insects, and the warm nights all contribute to the plentiful harvest.