Autumn, my favorite two weeks of the year, has finally arrived ... sort of.
“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”
— Robert Frost
Friday marks the first day of fall. As I sit here at my keyboard, though, summer is refusing to go quietly.
According to our intrepid local meteorologists, we're going to see temperatures pushing 90º right through the weekend.
Last week I was getting ready to fire up the furnace for the first time. This week I'm falling asleep with the air conditioner on.
I've heard it said by many old timers that fall in NEPA is “the best two weeks of the year.” And, it's hard to argue with that wry remark, especially given the late spring and rainy summer we experienced in 2017.
Nevertheless in honor of the autumnal equinox, this week's column is a tribute to fall … the best two weeks of the year.
As my favorite poet, Robert Frost, wrote so poignantly: “Nothing gold can stay.”
Mists of Time
It's funny. What starts as a quick Google search can sometimes become an hours-long foray into the weirdest corners of the web.
“Don't go down that rabbit hole!” is one of our News Editor's favorite expressions. Of course, I rarely heed her advice and, on this occasion I'm glad I didn't.
Why? Because I learned so much about the seasons in general and fall in particular! For instance: Did you know that the word 'autumn' has no common ancestor across the spectrum of Indo-European languages?
According to several online etymology sites I consulted, autumn's first appearance dates to 14th century in France and may have been influenced by Latin. However, many similar words exist in Italian, Spanish and even Portuguese.
Two common threads that run through all of these are the ideas of “drying-up” and “harvest-ending.” In fact, the English name for the season was “harvest” right up to the 16th century.
A few more interesting observations: In ancient Greek, the word for the season meant “end of or waning of summer.”
In Lithuanian, it means “reddish” (like the leaves, I guess?). And, in Old Irish the translation is “under-winter.”
So then, etymological internet excursions aside, let me share with you a much simpler take on autumn … from a canine point of view.
Point of View
This will be my first fall with my new best friend.
Callie is a beagle mix with boundless energy, exasperating curiosity and a heart of gold. She came into my life thanks to the good folks at Dessin.
Now, I live in a place with many trees, from maples and elms to apples and pears. So Callie has an endless supply of things to sniff. Her entire world revolves around that nose and autumn is a veritable cornucopia of scents.
Last week, we took our first morning walk on a fall-like day. I actually had to grab a light jacket before we ventured out.
There was a definite nip in the air and little bit of a breeze … a breeze that was starting to blow golden leaves out of the trees.
This was a phenomenon that Callie apparently had never witnessed before.
At first, she just stood there in silent amazement, cocking her head off to one side as beagles are wont to do when presented with some strange sight.
This lasted all of 15 seconds, though. Then she was bounding all over the yard, leaping high in a hilarious attempt at snapping leaves right out of the air.
The only reason Callie stopped her ridiculous canine contortions was that her nose took over. Again.
That same breeze which was bringing down leaves had also begun shaking fruit loose from trees. It only took Callie a moment to spy her first apple lying on the ground and turn it into a plaything.
She pounced on it, tossed it up in the air and began chasing it across the grass then down the path.
At one point, she even took a tentative bite out of it. That didn't go so well, though, as she flashed what I can only describe as a 'beagle-frown' and looked at me as if to say:
“You humans really eat these things?!”
If these initial reactions are any indication, Callie is going to become as big a fan of fall as I am.
And, Wayne County is the perfect place to live during the months of September and October.
Some of my favorite memories of growing up in Honesdale revolve around autumn in all its splendor. From high school football games to fall foliage to the scent of burning leaves, fall has always seemed to be a magical time.
And, apparently, many folks agree with me! They come from all over the country to experience the season right here in good old NEPA.
For example, “Travel” called Route 507 around Lake Wallenpaupack one of its Best Fall Foliage Road Trips.
Route 6 was among the Top Scenic Routes in America by “Car and Driver” magazine. It was also recognized by the Harley-Davidson Company as “PA’s Best Tour Road.”
From White Mills to Hawley, Honesdale to Pleasant Mount, Sterling to Newfoundland, Wayne County is the perfect place to appreciate the beauty of autumn.
So, make sure you get out of the house these next two weeks, folks. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Jump in the car for a fall foliage tour.
Visit Rickard's Cider Mill or Yatsonksy's Farm Stand for some good old-fashioned family fun. Walk the path along Lake Wallenpaupack or play some disc golf at Prompton State Park.
Soak up the season while it lasts and remember: “Nothing gold can stay.”