AUTUMN on the Sunshine Coast is a seasonal farewell to summer, but at the same time the first half of autumn introduces us to some of the most pleasant weather of the year. The word “autumn” of course signifies the third season of the calendar year. The word “autumn” found its way into the English language from the Latin. The Romans had acquired it from their early neighbours the Etruscans.
Here in North America, the season is often referred to as the “fall”. In the 17th century, settlement from England, was at its height. The settlers from England brought their language with them and the word “fall” became part of North American English. It is no longer a word that is used very often in England.
Autumn is sometimes referred to as the “cooling off” period. On the Sunshine Coast the days are usually warm at the beginning of fall, but the nights quickly get cooler. The days also get noticeably shorter and a sweater frequently appears late in a sunny afternoon.
People frequently associate fall with fall flowers and falling leaves. All of that is true. However, fall is more than that. It is the time of the harvest and at one time was known as the harvest season before our society became largely urban. Fall is the season when the last of the crops mature. It is the time of the Harvest Moon. You can see stellar jays and squirrels busily storing nuts for the winter. The root vegetables are being stored away.
In addition to plants the fall is an important time of the year for the animal kingdom. The coho and pink salmon spawn at this time of year. The salmon turn bright red as they make their way up the salmon creeks of the Sunshine Coast. The time has come for the black bear, having gorged themselves on berries and other fruit, to turn their attention to the spawning salmon. Those bears are some fishermen!
One of the sure signs of fall is the migration of many birds to the south. One of the common, but interesting migratory birds are Canada geese. Not all of them migrate, some remain nearly year round on the Coast. Others fly over on their way from the Arctic tundra to Mexico. Year after year we see the Canada geese flying in a “V” formation. The lead bird takes the point and sets the pace until he tires. He then drops back and his place is taken by another bird. If a bird is injured and falls to the ground another bird goes to the ground with it and stays until the injured bird recovers or dies.
The black tail deer, which abound on the Sunshine Coast, get thicker coats in the fall. As we get toward late fall the deer make preparation for breeding. Bucks are very attentive to the doe until they have mated or he has been replaced by a stronger buck. After mating, no attention is given. A deer’s world is a man’s world. The Roosevelt elk also mate in the fall and each sex gets a winter coast. Elk are more social than deer and the cows and calves often travel in groups of twenty or more. The bulls travel with other bulls except during mating season when they are rivals. Bulls don’t eat during mating season.
These are but a few of the autumn delights available for you on the Sunshine Coast. Enjoy the riot of colours of the fall flowers. You can almost see the leaves turn colour. There is beauty in the gardens and there are fish in the sea.