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On a drive to visit family this weekend, I realized the trees would soon be at peak color. I may have noticed a tree here or there changing and shedding its summer foliage, but suddenly, the tree line is starting to show more color than green.

Although I'm reluctant to leave the warmth of summer, the sights and smells of autumn entice the senses. The earthy, leafy smell of fall wraps around us, especially on these humid mild days. And then the sound - the sound of leaves crunching underfoot is music to soothe the most anxious soul.

My biggest complaint about autumn is its brevity. The mild temperatures, between the heat of summer and the freezing of winter, don't stay long enough. The colors can disappear with one good day of wind or hard rain.

Maybe it's because we are too busy preparing for the next season that the fling with fall slips past quickly, sometimes with little notice or even less celebration.

I think autumn gets shortchanged in the celebrity status of seasons. Winter has big, high-profile holidays. Spring holds the excitement of new growth and gradual warming. Summer spreads out before us in grandeur of long, luxurious days. But autumn - it falls. The leaves fall. The temperatures fall. The sun falls from the sky faster every day. As if we are falling from grace with Mother Nature.

Perhaps that's the beauty of living in a region with four distinct seasons. It humbles us and teaches us the grace in change. We always know change is right around the corner, with the next high pressure system or season. It humbles us to never take for granted the current forecast, the current temperature, for with one strong front pushing through, bam, you're shivering and wishing that blanket was still in the trunk of your car.

Autumn gets shortchanged as much as Thanksgiving gets overlooked. Neither should be a precursor to something bigger and bolder, but should be embraced for their own merits. Throw in a presidential election and autumn falls further down the line of consideration.

Don't let the mild aromatic days of autumn fall from notice. A hike through the Kettle Moraine State Forest won't make it any easier to decide between presidential candidates, but it would calm the nerves, clear the head and sync us with nature.

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