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signs of autumn: vegetation

Summer in Penticton arrived a bit late this year – the end of July, more or less!  August was beautiful, and summer hung on in all it’s glory till the middle of September.

But in the last few days, autumn has been dancing around the edges of the stage, gently ushering summer away from its center-stage spot.  Some days she simply whips up pleasant breezes off the lakes, allowing summer’s sun to shine but cooling the warmth of its rays, and the thermometer’s 30s have dropped to 20s.  Other days autumn is more insistent, appearing in the form of heaps of gray-white quilts, wrapping themselves around the sun, blocking its rays, and even adding a sprinkle of rain to emphasize that the year is turning another corner.  On one of those days the thermometer actually stayed in the ‘teens!  Brrr!

Autumn’s cool nights are also doing their part.  With temperatures as low as 5 C, leaves are beginning to respond, and while the greens are still dominant, there are yellows and reds and browns popping up here and there.  Autumn’s winds bend trees and their branches before their invisible force, and the drying leaves slip away from their summer homes, to flit about on the eddies of the breeze, before coming to rest in every nook and cranny imaginable.  Flowers too are starting to fade, their brilliant summer colours seemingly blown away on the morning winds that whip up as the autumn nights’ cool temperatures are challenged by the summer sun hanging on, valiantly trying to provide a few more days or weeks of warmth.   Meanwhile, domesticated apples, and wild crab apples alike, have developed their brightest shades, and their sweet juiciness tempts the taste buds of passers-by.

Seed pods of all sorts have matured, and are beginning to pop open, freeing the new life inside them to be blown about by autumn’s breezes, seeking for humusy spots where they can bed down over the winter, until spring comes and wakens them to continue the cycle of life.  The gentle early autumn rains are also watering long-dry lawns, beckoning forth mushrooms and fungi of all sorts which seem to literally pop up overnight.  Some of the mushrooms grow in circular formation; and one half-hopes to be lucky enough to see the fairies as they gather for their autumn dances.

The still waters of the Okanagan River’s oxbows are coated with algae wild-grown under the summer sun’s heat lamp, and ducks, preparing for their winter migration, joyfully swallow the rich green growth before rising up on the autumn winds and flying south to warmer climes for the winter.

Welcome, autumn!

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