In the north, the first tendrils of autumn work their way into the landscape in late August. It is subtle, at first – sunset comes earlier, a definite chill fills the nighttime air and the rosehips take on an orange glow. Wildlife acts accordingly – black bears voraciously fill their bellies to fuel their winter hibernation, feasting on the last of the summer berries and spawned-out salmon that are washed up along the riverbanks; the familiar calls of Canadian geese begin to echo out across the rural sky, as they search out fresh-cut oat fields to call home for a while.
In late August, the hard frosts of fall have not yet taken hold of the cool, early mornings – you know, the kind that trigger the unmistakable aroma of ripening highbush cranberries – but are preluded by heavy morning dew that settles into tiny, frozen droplets that cover the grasses and shrubs in low-lying areas. This soft layer of frost doesn’t last for long, the gentle rays of sunshine melt away it away.
Mornings are no longer for warm-weather clothing, but that isn’t the worst trade off in the world; there is something comforting about wrapping yourself in a cozy sweater to ward off the chilled morning air. You start counting down the days on the calendar, not so patiently awaiting the beginning of September and the arrival of hunting season. Licenses and tags are in hand, rifles sighted in, and boots ready to go for yet another fall season in the bush. Early morning walks take on a whole new meaning, as you keep your eyes peeled for any new tracks or rubs; in fact, any activity at all, that might alert you to a new animal in your neck of the woods.
The first light frosts of fall certainly signal endings, depending on how you look at it, but why focus on that when you can look at the beginnings right in front of you? After all, when is a hunter more filled with optimism than at the beginning of the season? There is still enthusiasm and hope after several months of hunting, but not quite like the feelings of anticipation that build up in the couple of weeks prior to September.
And so those first fall frosts, so subtle that you might miss them if you aren’t watching for them, act as a signal to all that autumn is ready to wrap us in its vibrant embrace – a welcome change of pace from the hustle and heat of summer.