Steve Meurett/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
It happens every year about now and most would miss it-one has to spend many hours in the woods to catch on and be reminded of what is to come. Itís the sound of fall. Not anything loud and in your face, like fall colors, but rather just subtle things that you pick up on and think, ďOh yeah, itís almost here, autumn is around the corner.Ē
The subject came up the other day when good friend Butch McCumber and I were digging dirt, bench cutting a section of mountain bike trail on a hot humid summer morning. Sweat had already drenched our clothes, arms were getting sore, but weíd made good progress. Then it was there, high and unseen, a Blue Jay sounded an alarm call, having seen something of concern and letting the woods know.
Other animals can decipher that call and are put on alert. Butch and I heard it and remarked, ďfall is coming.Ē We both bow hunt and that alarm is one we hear too frequently, as the jays point out to every living creature- ďThere he is, there HE ISÖ.THERE, in that treeÖa man!Ē In times like that, we just want the raucous bird to just shut up, but in August, itís a reminder that our favorite time of year is coming, one that will come and go too soon.
Squirrels will do the same thing, that scratchy-squealy alarm call peeking out from behind a trunk and then there are crows-forming their flocks and calling out in seemingly hundreds of curious vocalizations. To us, itís just saying the next season will be here soon.
There are other signs as well.
Already, white birch and butternuts are turning yellow and dropping leaves-alarmingly too soon it seems. Daylight is barely showing itself at 5:00am, when a few weeks ago it was out ready to go. Sandhill cranes down the road, who were just fluff balls on stilts earlier are now lifting off with their parents. Fall mushrooms like Black Trumpets and Hen of the Woods are showing up as well, but itís those sounds that really signal to me what is about to happen. Itíll be confirmed soon enough when nature mixes in the smell of fall, that dry leaf earthy smell as color begins to litter the forest floor.
At that time, itíll be a done deal, Autumn is here, the sounds had predicted itís arrival correctly and Iíll be loving every minute of it.
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Steve Meurett lives, works and plays in West Central Wisconsin and spends about every free moment outdoors where his passions lie. His outdoor interests take him on and off trail, pursuing mountain biking and skinny skiing, photography and hunting, while keeping an eye on wild mushrooms and the next fruit for craft wine. Steve is the Trail Director at The Levis Mound Trail System and member of the Clark County Trails Advisory Committee. He resides, teaches and is a photographer in Neillsville. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.