Fog hugs the recently mown field at the RC airflield at sunrise, Lackawanna State Park, 31 August 2012.

Autumn has arrived. It’s subtle, so much that you could miss the first signs, the calendar barely into September.  But I woke up Friday morning and knew it. It was in the air, that unmistakable crispness, that autumn smell. The days are shorter, the light warmer and somehow more lovely.  It is, perhaps, as much a state of mind as anything tangible at this stage, but it is here.

These are my favorite kinds of days. The nights are colder, perfect for sleeping under an extra blanket with the windows open. But the days grow warm by mid-morning and remain so until the sun starts to edge back towards the horizon. The sky is a rich blue and I have the sudden urge to spend whole afternoons just lying under it, on the grass, just to feel as if I’m a part of it.

View across Lackawanna Lake towards the balloon launch site from the eastern shore on the morning of 31 August 2012.

Sunrise happens later now, at 0630, which is easy to get up just ahead of. When I drove out of the city Friday morning, I realized that the first trees have started to turn. Just a few individuals scattered across the landscape, but they are there. And when I walked through the woods, the very first leaves were down on the trail.  Soon the forest floor will be painted in color.

I wore my jeans and light jacket for the first time, to ward off the morning chill and the fog. I love my jeans and much prefer them to shorts, which I succumb to only because of the summer heat.  There’s something honest about jeans with some mud on them.  (And mud comes with the territory, no matter what the season.)

Forget-me-nots linger on towards autumn & collect dew drops at Lackawanna State Park on the morning of 31 August 2012.

Dew drops adorn a fireweed blossoms at sunrise on at Lackawanna State Park on the morning of 31 August 2012.

And yet amid all these early portents of autumn, there are still lingering signs of summer as well. Fireweed blossoms along the shoreline and late Forget-me-nots peek out from the tall grass. There’s still cool dew, instead of the frost that will later spread across the windows in intricate patterns.

It’s a time of transition, with a poignancy all its own. Summer is fading. The first snow will fall relatively soon, maybe even before Halloween. But autumn somehow makes up for this and rather than an impending sense of doom, there’s just a strange happiness. A lightness. The joy that comes from the promise of Indian Summer, from the familial pull of the harvest season. The first golden leaves will turn to corn harvests, migrating geese, ripening apples, and fat pumpkins.

It’s my favorite time of year.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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