In the winter, we listen to the winds howl. In the spring, we listen to the rains pound. In the summer, we listen to the corn grow. In the fall, we listen to the quiet.
There are precious few days with no wind in South Dakota, but they are most precious in the fall, when the temperatures are mild and it is a joy to be outside for any reason.
On such days leaves float straight down as they fall from the trees. The sky has a pale blue cast caused by a few high clouds.
The sunlight is now warm instead of hot, and its harsh glare is replaced with a softer light that brings every detail of the landscape into focus. You can watch a Monarch butterfly travel south for a quarter of a mile if you keep your eye on it.
The hawks and sea gulls are migrating. The blackbirds are talking about it in large swarms. Waterfowl will soon follow. Many of the smaller birds and doves are already gone.
The trees are mostly quiet, but for the squirrel who is more worried about where to hide his food than he is about the passing cars.
The small grain crops are in and beans and corn harvests are underway. The gardens are picked. The salsa and other canned goods are on the shelf.
Even the livestock are less anxious, possibly because their young are now big enough to fend for themselves.
The children are in school giving quiet rest to streets, homes and parents.
Bands of foolish young pheasants are roaming the roads as if they owned them. Let them have their day. Their time is short and a day of surprise is not far away.
Capitol Lake is empty and quiet. The thousands of noisy geese that will converge on it are still grazing someplace in Canada, I suspect.
At such times, it almost feels like the world has stopped. Nature never really stops, but each fall she seems to pause and quietly admire herself.
There is no particular point to this column. Fall is simply a good time for us to pause and remember just how lucky we are to live in a place like this.