Signs that summer’s over

This past week I noticed large flocks of birds swirling around the tree tops; they land on the ground and up they go again. They are probably filling themselves up with insects before migrating. On the way to church on Sunday I saw a flock of geese in a harvested wheat field. It’s early to be seeing migrating geese. An area duck hunter stopped by the farm for a visit on August 12 asking permission to hunt on my wheat fields when the duck season opens in September. That was early too. Permission was granted – never had problems with hunters.

Now for those with a keen eye to see signs in nature as summer morphs into autumn, what do you notice besides trees starting to change colour, the sun setting earlier and the nights being cooler?

Many things symbolize the end of summer. The sure sign for me are the groundhogs that dig their burrows along the side of our township road. They can be seen all spring and summer on the road, scurrying away when cars come along. The rodents pack it in at the end of August (some maybe earlier) and go underground. You won’t see them again until spring. I jot down on a calendar when I see the first one pop out of its hole and this year it was March 8.

There are also many upcoming events and outings to attend: fall fairs start in mid-August. The church fall suppers are well attended events. Plowing matches – the county ones and the International Plowing Match (IPM) – are held each September in Ontario and are a great showcase for mostly rural folks. A buddy and I plan to attend the two-day Hasting County Plowing Match & Farm Show near Belleville. We will probably again attend the Outdoor Farm Show held each September at Woodstock, Ont. Sometimes I check out the Antique Wheels in Motion Harvest Days held near Brockville. I’ve also been to the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois. It’s a huge three-day event at the end of August. Two farm buddies and I have been to a few crop day luncheons this August (put on by seed companies or seed dealers), where we feasted on barbecued chicken, spare ribs and corn on the cob. They all symbolized the end of the growing season and the beginning of autumn.

I thought of some of the harvest stories in the Bible (particularly Ruth 2 and 3) but what does it tell us about autumn? The Bible has many passages on harvesting crops and seasons but the word “autumn” is notably absent, except some translations use the word occasionally. Jude 1:12 is one example. One translation says false teachers are compared to “autumn trees without fruit,” implying that autumn should be a fruitful season, the most abundant of the year.

New beauty
You know autumn has arrived when you see geese flying overhead in their V formation, when you hear crickets sing and when you see fields of yellow pumpkins. Autumn is here when the harvest is in full swing and combines creep along in slow speed separating the seed from the stalks. Lawns are easier to mow as the grass is drier. Soybeans have gone from a lush green to a yellowish colour. The lake where we spent so much time in the summer will soon be quiet. Soon only the kayakers will be left – the older folks out for exercise paddling along the shore.

Many folks find September and October favourite months of the year. If you love eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown in Ontario, this is the time to get them. Bright red and juicy tomatoes are everywhere.

The end of summer brings with it a certain sadness. Summer always seem to go by so quickly, especially the last two weeks of August.
Summer will soon be gone, only to open the beauty of the autumn season.


  • Meindert VanderGalien

    Meindert was born in The Netherlands in 1949. The family immigrated to Canada (The Ottawa Valley) in 1953. He’s a life-long cattle farmer, enjoys traveling, reading, writing, gardening, bush work in the winter cutting firewood and country life. He’s been a columnist since 1987 writing for many newspapers and is currently the bulletin editor at Hebron CRC in Renfrew, where he is a faithful member.

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