There is a moment, a brief shining slice of time, when fall comes to Illinois. It's the day you can smell the smell of burning leaves far away. It's the day that you can go outside without your jacket even though there was a hard freeze the week before. It's the day when you suddenly realize how red the trees are, how brilliant the yellow of the maples, how bright the silver of the silver maples along Route 150.
The fields are almost done being harvested. The land lays brown and bare, like a new buzz cut on a five-year old. Grain trucks and combines and pickups crawl the countryside like worker ants laying in winter stores. The kids delight in walking in the leaves, shuffling their feet along to make a path that the wind immediately erases. Black cats and witches and hobgoblins decorate the city.The sassafras roots lie just under the loam, ripe and ready to make gallons of amazing sassafras tea. Squirrels work furiously and without ceasing, hunting nuts and acorns, sometimes burying them and sometimes storing them. They play, chasing each other between and around and up the giant oak trees in Lincoln park.
You won't miss that day if you blink. But it sneaks in unannounced, suddenly and brilliantly just there. Get outside, get into the woods, get to a park. Get to a place where traffic is a memory and city is noise an old dream. Don't let it pass by.
There are folks that fly south for the winter, folks that look for skiing weather in the summer. Give me the fall. Give me beautiful trees and falling leaves and cold nights and warm days all year long.