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Lane County enjoyed wondrous weather this summer. We had blue skies, moderate temperatures, and small amounts of rain at intervals, keeping the deciduous plants lush and green through August. Now that fall has arrived, we will see the progression of fall colors in the leaves. Fall colors in Oregon are not as famous as those of the northeast, but the stately backdrop of evergreen trees creates a contrast for the yellows and oranges of our deciduous canopy of ash, alder, oak, willow, and big-leaf maple. The understory of vine maple and poison oak adds splashes of reds.

Another bonus of our lovely summer weather is the bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables we enjoy this time of year. In the fall I keep very busy trying to cope with our apples and pears that fill my refrigerator, countertops, and garage as they ripen. And I work to preserve their sweet summer flavors for later use. I always plant too many tomatoes and they also ripen late in the season, due to our garden elevations of almost 1,000 feet. While it is work to process all these gifts of the garden, I’m truly grateful for their healthy nutrition in my diet.

For autumn birding, we have the return of mountain birds to the lower elevations. Obviously some birds migrate south, but others simply move into lower altitudes like the Willamette Valley. This is true of the Belted Kingfisher, Varied Thrush, Northern Flicker, Pacific Wren, the two kinglets, and Harlequin Ducks (who return to coastal waters). We will also see the return of some of the northern-breeding birds, such as Golden-crowned Sparrow and Fox Sparrow, plus many ducks, and shorebirds who will remain in the Willamette Valley until next spring. 

The transitions to fall and then winter give us a sense of the larger workings of the natural world. In this human era of stress and conflict and uncertainty, we need to take the pulse of the natural world. We need to remember the rhythms of the earth moving around the sun, and how we depend on this wonderful planet, the blue-green Earth, our home.