By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
The leaves on the gum trees haven’t fallen yet and the grass in the front yard hasn’t turned brown, but the first cool nights of fall have put the lie to the last hot days of summer and signaled the arrival of what many of us consider the sweetest season of the year.
Whether it’s the intrepid winter anglers who’ll toast the cold-weather dry-docking of many of the craft that share their waters, the legions of deer hunters who’ll finally sit the stands only trail cameras have watched for past weeks and months on end, the countless small game enthusiasts who’ll thrill at the sight of squirrels high among the branches or join the chase with baying hounds hot on the heels of a cottontail, or any of the others in between who relish the time when the world finally draws a deep, unhindered breath after another stifling summer, cool afternoons and frosty sunrises put all of us on common ground.
Now is the time of our greatest anticipation. We ration memories back to ourselves through the warm months that were first gathered in the cool, but the impending opportunity to add to the treasure trove is something the experienced wait to anticipate. When the heat and humidity pounce like a wolf at the door and a few moments’ outdoor pause make any cotton shirt weigh five pounds, it’s great to remember cooler times – but actively looking forward to their return is less a relief than a recipe for disappointment and heightened misery. When it’s finally cool again though, oh boy, let the preparations begin.
When it comes to road trips they say getting there is half the fun and, where fall’s adventures are concerned, I think that still holds true. Almost like savoring memories in advance, it’s easy to slip into a daydream about excitement yet to come. Pretty often the anticipation is better than the fact. You never daydream about getting lost on the way in to camp or about getting stuck on the way back out. In our mind’s eye, the winch cable never piles up on itself and binds, the mosquitoes don’t lay in ambush along the trail and the neighboring property owner’s kids don’t walk right underneath your stand 15 minutes before prime time. The anticipation is usually the enjoyment of and before the fact. Execution of the adventure itself tends to create memories to laugh about later or to think back on in an endless highlight loop. When it goes wrong, it goes wrong. When it goes right, the present turns into a blur that can only be appraised in life’s rear view mirror. In those instances, there’s too much on the line to do anything but what’s required.
Wherever your fall’s adventures may find you, take a few moments to stop and just look. The camera captures images to share but, deep in our mind’s eye, the hot days of summer find our memories are never out of focus.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.