Although daytime temperatures here in central New Mexico still reach into the upper 80s, there is a definite hint of autumn in the air.
The different angle of the morning sun is the first indication that the seasons will be changing soon. Days are shorter, with later sunrises and earlier sunsets. Low clouds on the horizon, uncommon during the summer, create fabulous, colorful sunrises. Overnight temperatures are a bit cooler. Cloudy days are more common. Leaves turn from green to a beautiful golden color. Our trees, cottonwoods and aspens, lack the brilliant reds and oranges of maple trees. But the golden leaves are beautiful in their own way. Most of all, there is a feeling in the air that change is on the horizon. Fall truly is a feast for all our senses.
The state's famous Hatch green chiles have been harvested, and chile roasting is under way throughout the state. Chiles are offered for sale in 30-pound bags -- an amount that would last three lifetimes for me, as spicy foods don't agree with my stomach. Autumn has a distinctive aroma unique to this season. Maybe it's the smell of decomposing leaves that have fallen to the ground, roasting chiles and the occasional wood fire or burning leaves.Inside, autumn brings the smell and taste of different spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and the aroma of hearty food cooking on the stove or in the oven. Whatever it is, it is a wonderful aroma that heralds the arrival of a new season.
Fall has a different sound, too, as geese and other birds fly overhead on their annual migration. Where I live, it's the distinctive sound of sandhill cranes on their trek south that indicates the arrival of fall. We can hear the sound of leaves crunching beneath our feet. Even the wind blowing through the leaves on the trees sounds different as the leaves dry out.
Don't forget the different feel of autumn, as we don warmer clothes. I love the feel of a warm sweater or sweatshirt on a chilly fall morning. The air itself feels different.
This coming change will bring a welcome end to the scorching heat of summer. The cottonwoods and aspens will don their brilliant yellow leaves. Soon I will start going through my cookbooks in search of cool-weather recipes. Capris will replace the shorts I have worn all summer. I will be able to open dining room windows for a couple of hours in the early morning, and to sit outside while reading the morning newspaper. And I look forward to sleeping with a bedroom window open, enjoying the cool night air and if I'm lucky, the sounds of coyotes howling.
So take a step outside, close your eyes and let the changing of the seasons fill your senses.