Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Autumn Falling (Or So They Say)

Fall begins tonight, at least that’s what They say. We’ve got some summer days ahead (though not everyday), but I’m excited even if it is like Christmas without snow or cold. There are many reasons to love fall in central Texas even if the leaves don’t change colors like they do up north.

Maybe it’s the light and the way it changes in the fall as the sun follows those migrating birds south. There is too much light here five months of the year. Everything seems blasted, washed out and flat. Photographs with white skies. The autumn light throws things into sharper relief so everything around jumps out, though it was all there all along, hidden in the haze of light that melts everything it touches into flatness. There are discoveries to make this time of year now that the heat no longer blinds.

Maybe it’s the southbound migrants passing through and the winter residents arriving. The orange-crowned and yellow-rumped warblers, the chipping sparrows and kinglets coming back. Fall and winter are great times for birding here since as many species are coming as going. So long, scissor-tails, swallows and kingbirds. Hello, ducks.

Maybe it’s the simple fact that being outside is enjoyable again. Now that fall is upon us, the weather is finally beginning to change just ever so slightly. It’s still humid but the heat behind that humidity is down, and I can once again enjoy creeping out of my air-conditioned cave to enjoy the world.

Most days, I take a walk at lunch. It’s an even mile around the facility where I work and, and I like to walk that mile. It’s good to see the weather and hear the birds, to feel sun and wind in the middle of a day spent in a windowless classroom. It recharges me for the afternoon and lets me unwind as well. When the planet begins to skirt close to the sun as it does in late April, my walks stop and usually don’t resume until mid-September since I can’t stand returning to class sweaty and smelly. I took my first lunch walk of the new school year yesterday, enjoying the calls of the killdeer that live in the fields around the building.

Those walks are the source of many of the micro-poems I post at (the new and improveda gnarled oak so the micro-poems, like many of our plants, dry up a little in the summertime. So does a lot of my writing. I don’t know why, but it’s better to write when the world is cooler and darker. It seems there’s more to say, more of a need to say it. A fall bloom, if you will.

When I was in high school in New England, spring was such a joy. An annual awakening that seemed to lift everyone from the darkness. Here in Texas things are turned around. Here, it is autumn that awakens as I find myself celebrating the release from the blazing light and heat. Excited again by the opportunity to reconnect with the outdoors.

Or maybe it’s just football.

Whichever way, it’s fall. Time to get outside again.

This post was inspired by Lorianne and Heather whose posts about fall got me looking forward to fall here even though it doesn’t feel that fall-like most days.


  1. There’s definitely a different quality about autumn light, which makes sense since the light is beginning to slant more. Emily Dickinson hit the proverbial nail on the head when she wrote about the “certain slant of light on winter afternoons,” and autumn is when I start feeling that changed quality in sunlight.

    I had to chuckle at your mention of “spring” in New England. When I moved to New England from the Midwest, I was dismayed to find New England doesn’t really have spring, just mud and blackflies.

    • The slant starts to hit here in late October. That’s when I really start to notice anyway.

      The main thing I remember about spring was that waking up feeling. That’s how it felt to me as a high school kid anyway. Our Texas springs are a wonder, but they’re too short and you know the heat’s coming. Another reason for fall being my favorite these days.

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