Weather can affect everyone’s moods, and fall is in the air

Published 9:16 am Friday, August 20, 2010

Dick Herfindahl, Wood & Water

Have you ever noticed how the weather can affect your mood and that of everyone around you? It seems like the hot and humid weather spell we just went through made everyone a little edgy. It’s the same thing that happens in the spring when you know we should be experiencing the spring thaw but instead are treated to snowy, cloudy and unseasonably cold weather. A person can tend to be a little bit short with their neighbor until the sun comes out and the temperatures start to rise — that’s when it all changes and everyone is your best friend and life is good.

I know it sounds like I am repeating myself, but we are now heading into my favorite time of the year. In late summer you can already feel a hint of the season ahead with the warm summer-like days and the cool evenings. For some reason it seems to give me that same refreshed feeling that I’d get from taking a dip in a cool lake on a scorching hot summer day. Yes indeed, fall is my season and I embrace it without giving a second thought to what comes after.

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As I took my morning walk the other day I witnessed a large number of pelicans in the channel by Frank Hall Park. I have seen a lot of those large birds over the years but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen that many gathered at one time except for maybe in the spring. It was fun to watch as they formed a circle and slowly closed in driving their prey towards a shallower part of the lake. This indeed was a sight to behold, and I may have witnessed a similar sight but have not taken the time to really stop and watch the process unfold.

Watching this act of nature tells me that I need to slow down and take in the natural wonders that we have right here in our area. Although I’ve said it many times in my columns I guess that I’m sometimes guilty of not taking time to stop and smell the roses. We are lucky to live in an area with all these beautiful resources for us to enjoy. There is also an abundance of wildlife to watch right in our own neighborhoods. Keep an eye on the area lakes in the weeks ahead and watch as the waterfowl start migrating south.

I know that squirrels can be a nuisance, and I’ve tried to outwit a few from time to time that have taken up residence in my garage or shed. I’m not owning up to being outwitted by a tree-climbing rat with a bushy tail but there are times when they can be fun to watch. They are especially fun to watch when they are not in my yard.

We also have an abundance of rabbits in our neighborhood, but I don’t mind them because they can’t climb trees and have no interest in entering my house, garage or shed. I also enjoy watching birds but so does the neighbor cat that thinks it is supposed to keep my yard clear of all living critters. It seems to be a nice cat, as far as cats go, but I don’t see many birds around when it’s lurking in the shadows. Some folks must think it’s okay for their cat to wander the “hood” in search of critters in someone else’s yard.

Getting back to fall: I am actually getting excited about the upcoming season and I do hope it doesn’t fly by or shorten its stay. Sitting outside in the evening and taking a deep breath gives me an exhilarating feeling when I taste that hint of crispness in the cool evening air. I’ve often said that each season has a smell all it’s own, well maybe snow doesn’t really have a smell but the crisp, crackling of your breath on a winter’s night has to count for something.

There is just a certain distinct smell of almost everything associated with fall. The smell of fall is unmistakable when the leaves begin to fall and a little rain gives them a coating of moisture. There is nothing like the smell of damp leaves in a forest or of the grass and weeds browning from a frost. I can still smell our breezeway when my mother would pick the cucumbers, squash and tomatoes and store them there in wooden peach crates. These are just some of the memories that are forever burned into my mind. I can indeed revisit that little part of my life by just closing my eyes while remembering and I swear I can smell those vegetables in that breezeway on a cool crisp evening and it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago.

We also used to experience the smell of burning leaves but that has gone by the wayside, for our own good, of course. Now we must take a drive in the country if we wish to experience that smell. A drive in the country is always a good thing and as we wind towards fall you can smell the cool evening air as daylight exits and evening sets in.

Fishing in the fall can be good and not so good but for the most part it is a good time to fish. Once there is a frost fall can really be a good time to fish. No bugs and for the most part you can have the lake pretty much to yourself. An old fisherman once told me that he’d catch some dandy fish after the first hard frost. I have found this to be true in most cases. I do believe your chance for a “trophy” fish is better in the fall than any other time of year. Fish go on a feeding “binge” in the fall, fattening up in preparation for ice-over. This can make for some very good fishing if you’re in the right place at the right time. Now that statement can be said for just about anything but fall fishing can really be good if you find that small window of opportunity.

There is still plenty of time to get out and enjoy those warm August days and those cool summer nights. It’s a great time to enjoy a picnic or go on a weekend camping trip and while you’re at it maybe do a little fishn’.

Remember our brothers and sisters who are proudly serving our country so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today.