Here and there, in just a spot or two, I am beginning to see signs that fall is approaching. Somehow the plants just know. It can’t be that the weather is slightly cooler, because normal summer weather has finally reached this mountain. The dreaded three H’s—hazy, hot and humid—hold sway again and have for at least two weeks now.
It can’t be dry weather, because it hasn’t been dry here. Almost tropical downpours drench the mountain nearly every other day.
It could be that the plants are responding to the ever-shortening hours of daylight. If so, the Virginia creeper is the plant most sensitive to that change, as it is always the first in my woods to show color.
Or perhaps the plants just know. Perhaps their lifespan is geared to a certain number of days or months, and weather or daylight plays little part in impacting that. Whatever the answer, the change has begun. Today, it’s only a leaf or two. Next week it will be a few more. The week after that it will likely be a different species of plant. Today, in the midst of the hottest days of the season, the first glimpse of fall brightens the forest.