Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:
Fall makes us feel as if we have new skin. With cooler temperatures and less humidity, the air is a lot more user-friendly.
On my evening walks, I see more Emporians walking, riding bikes, tending to their yards, and sitting on porches. Parks are full of picnickers, tennis players, and riders of swings.
When fall drops in, it’s as if the planet – or at least our part of the planet – hits the reset button. Various changes show up, including the scenery.
Each season brings its own color scheme. Winter wears neutral shades: tan, white, gray. Spring throws pastels into our world, and summer gives us primary colors with kindergarten green as the background for everything. Autumn is all about earth tones.
With the fall colors, I’m always reminded of the 1970s, and that awkward phase we all went through with earth-tone shades. If you’ve forgotten, let me remind you about the dark brown paneling of the ‘70s, the macramé plant hangers, terra cotta floor tile, brown plaid couches, and kitchen appliances in shades of avocado green and harvest gold.
If autumn has one defining color, though, it has to be orange. Halloween would be nothing without orange. But as dominant as orange is, it’s actually not the most widely seen color on the Kansas autumn scene. Shades of rust will arrive soon, but for now, orange’s best friend, yellow, has crept into the landscape.
The other day I drove to Wichita on the Kansas Turnpike. That 50-mile stretch of roadway between Emporia and El Dorado is one of the prettiest in the state. It winds us through the open prairie that we call home, the Flint Hills.
Rolling along on the turnpike, I noticed broomweed blooming happily in the pastures, sweeping the fields with a rash of yellow-green. Broomweed has its own peculiar color, almost a shade of chartreuse.
There are not many trees out there, but they gather in low spots and streams, and have developed yellow highlights. For one brief shining moment, the cottonwoods will wear golden halos. After that, they will stand as lonely gray skeletons for the next six months.
It’s not just colors that change during autumn, our clothing changes, too. Deciding what to wear in summer is fairly straight-forward because we can count on temperatures at 80 or above. But on an autumn day, the temperature can vary so much during the day that it’s hard to know how to dress. I run the car’s heater in the morning, roll down the windows midday, and flip on the air conditioner in the afternoon.
Fall switches our wardrobe from shorts to pants, from short sleeves to long sleeves, from the primary colors to those woodsy earth tones.
Other things change in autumn as well. Baseball winds down, sadly without the Royals, but we have the Chiefs to entertain us, and soon basketball will step into the arena.
Food! As someone who frequents the Emporia Farmers Market, I’ve followed the seasons of eating. During the winter markets, I might carry home a lightweight bag of lettuce or spinach or carrots. As the season progresses, the bag gets heavier. In the summer, I tote cucumbers, tomatoes, corn and potatoes. These days, my arms are loaded down with cantaloupe, watermelon, and pumpkins.
Meals get more substantial, too, as autumn gets going. We look forward to dinners of chili and cornbread, homemade chicken noodle soup, or beef stew with biscuits.
Of the four seasons, fall seems to be a sturdy favorite. Autumn brings a change in wardrobe and landscape, sports and food. Hot days aren’t as hot. Windows can be open, letting in the night sound of crickets.
We make a point to get outside to enjoy this gentle fall weather. The lifespan of a good autumn is relatively short, and we all know that this one, too, shall pass too quickly.
Copyright 2013 ~ Cheryl Unruh