Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

The nights are cooler and the mornings often fog shrouded. Spider webs woven during the night are easily seen by dawn as they are heavily laden with glistening dew drops. But some are obscure. I find some newly spun webs stretched between tree branches and an obscure ground anchor as I walk the weekend woods with Charley and my morning cup of coffee. The moisture laden web is cold as I break the arachnid’s handiwork with my face sending a shiver around my neck.

Bright orange pumpkins are making their way onto roadside markets and local home decorations. Farmers have begun to harvest. And there is the first tinge of red, orange and gold in plants just a few weeks ago were a lush green.

Such are the early days of October. And thus begins my favorite time of the year.

It’s not that I relish the idea of passing of summer’s growing life, but the seasons are a part of a master process and each has its purpose, as Ecclesiastes tells us.

I suppose it’s the sensory beauty the autumn that appeals to me. The harmonies of russet and earth colors take over a landscape that was previously predominantly green. Trees and plants of hills and valleys which formerly looked like emerald earthborne clouds, magically show their individually unique character as the green fades to reveal brilliant and subdued warm tones of fall.

The cool temperatures may send a sudden shiver when you first exit your home in the morning. But, to me, its a invigorating chill as I breathe deep and take in the musky, grainy menu of aromas of harvested crops, burning leaves and ripened late summer fruits.

If there is a downside to this time of year, it would have to be the yellow jackets. The cool weather causes these sweet-loving, short-tempered barbtails to become a bit too curious and friendly for my liking.

Burning fall leaves is not something I cannot totally condemn. But not paying attention while burning fall leaves can cause unnecessary work for volunteer fire departments. I must confess that I enjoy the occasional whiff of the pungent smoke of pine, maple, oak, and the plethora of other dry leaves in southern Indiana. It’s a sign of the season; sort of like the smell of turkey and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and sugar cookies baking at Christmas.

But before all of that, be sure to soak in as much of the fall sensory menu as you can. An afternoon drive through the hills of Jackson County can match any of the highly touted (and much congested) scenery of Brown County. And if the length of excursion doesn’t fit your schedule, then maybe an inspection of Vernon Township will.

A tour beginning with a drive through the Bethany neighborhood, heading north along country roads for a review of Retreat and you may find yourself renewing acquaintances with friends you hadn’t seen in some time. A drive to the Chestnut Ridge bottoms (where Charley & I recently saw a pair of wood ducks paddling up the Muscatatuck), over to the New Hope area and finishing up at Slate Ford should convince everyone that this area of south central Indiana is about as close to God’s Country you can get and still remain mortal.

Maybe this afternoon I will check on my secret hickory nut honey hole.