Fall is my favorite season. Here in the Brooks Range the heat of summer will suddenly shift overnight to cooler nights, days have a sharp edge to them, the smell of coming winter is faint. I look around and notice suddenly that the migratory birds have all vanished, the summer flowers have gone to seed. I see one willow bush with a yellow leaf, the next few days there are many more, another week later Fall colors are putting on a vibrant show. The tundra showcases red, cranberry, yellow, pink, purple, and multiple shades of green. The leaves continue to turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The berries are ripe for the picking and my thoughts turn to preserving them.
I walk the same path every day and look for changes in the rivers and creeks. The edges of the creeks start to freeze and the frozen water slowly takes over for the free flow as it creeps towards center. Soon the rivers will follow suit. I now listen to my steps crunching over the frozen mud. The young bull moose I’ve been watching all summer has grown antlers covered in velvet and his color is shiny mahogany.
Coffee is best brewed on a Fall morning down by the river. I love sitting in the mist doing nothing but watching a lynx peruse the opposite band or listening to the deafening silence that only the Brooks Range can offer. My senses sharpen at this time of year. I can feel the softness of a Fall breeze running over my cheek or the mist of low clouds dampening my hair. All of this happens at lightning speed as the freight train of Fall thunders through the Koyukuk River valley. I wait all year for its beauty and, sadly, it is gone within a few weeks. But, oh! the joy of those few weeks!!