The breeze feels like August; warm, close, comforting. But the sun and the landscape reveal the day’s true identity: mid-October. Deep red, maroon, cranberry, orange and yellow leaves replace the myriad greens of summer. A few tattered wildflowers remain, but most have given way to sharp, sturdy seed heads in shades of brown and cream. Thick, warty milkweed pods crack open and set free their silky seeds. The woods are much quieter now without thrushes, warblers, orioles and so many other nesting birds to sing their courtship songs. A few chickadees, kinglets, nuthatches and woodpeckers call in the trees and thickets, and small groups of Sandhill cranes bugle overhead as they fly between fields. On the bank of the Snake River in Pine County, MN, a brown morph leopard frog rests in the long grass, and a few wood ducks splash and take flight as I approach. Chipmunks scold each other as they scramble to collect and store red acorns for their winter stash. Most insects have disappeared for the season, but an eastern comma butterfly suns itself, ladybugs swarm looking for a place to wait out the winter, and hardy bumble bees seek the few remaining wildflowers. During the coming winter, I’ll hold close these memories of the sun’s gentle warmth and the glowing landscape.