First Autumn Chill

Today brought the first autumn chill to central Missouri. Though the afternoon high was near 70 degrees F, a steady north breeze and intermittent cloud cover produced the first cool day of the season. We may still be in August but it felt more like early October.

A jacket provided comfort on our morning visit to the local nature preserve where the chill seemed to energize the late summer residents. Cardinals, indigo buntings and American goldfinches flashed through the woodland while killdeer noisily patrolled the expanding mudflats. Bullfrogs and green frogs, finding refuge in the warmer water, peered from the shallows, wary of herons and water snakes that haunt the seasonal lake. Gold and purple wildflowers (goldenrod, black-eyed susans, blazing star, thistle) adorned the meadows, glowing beneath a brilliant sun and a deep blue sky.

Back home, the walnut trees, heavy with fruit, are beginning to shed their yellowing leaves while the dark berries of the pokeweed, ripening on bright pink stems, entice cardinals and catbirds. Caught between summer and fall, we welcome this inflow of cool, dry air, a refreshing change from the sticky weather of recent weeks. Autumn splendor will soon unfold and, before long, winter's wrath will alter our memory of summer's heat.