What makes you most excited for fall? Maybe it’s because America’s favorite sport, football, is in full swing, or the kids are back in school. Not to mention everyone’s favorite TV shows are back on the air, the weather is dreamy, and we have an extra hour of darkness (which means it’s easier to sleep)!
Fall has its own unique atmosphere that anyone can find appealing. Every single time you step out the door, it hits you like a brick wall. The smells flood in from the fresh wisps of crisp autumn air, and the color is warm and inviting. All five senses are filled in the fall.
Fragrances from fall are powerful and more often than not, delightful. Some of our favorites revolve around food! Savor the scent of a fresh baked pie as it fills the house after teaching your kids how to bake, or take a deep breath and enjoy the smell of cinnamon while drinking cider.
You might think that pumpkin is a top seller for fragrances and candles, but really, it’s a mix of more than that. Handmade candles by Pine-Clad Candle Company are a big hit in the Hills. Some of their best fall sellers are Apple Cider Donut, Woodland Foliage, and Fall Magic. The latter are made of oranges, peaches, and apples, surrounded by cloves and cinnamon with a warm background of Tonka and sweet vanilla. Fall emits an earthy aroma that is indescribable yet distinct.
In the Black Hills, the color of fall is fairly unique. There is still so much life in the green pine trees, but you also have colorful yellows and oranges from birches and other deciduous trees. You can also see your breath in the morning air or the fog rolling in from the hills. The wildlife has begun scurrying and preparing for winter hibernations, and as you drive through town the whole family can admire the decorations on homes everywhere!
Listen to the crowd cheer for your hometown football team while cheerleaders encourage the players. Sit quietly around a bonfire and enjoy the peaceful crackle in your backyard. Walk downtown and hear the delicate leaves falling, signaling a change. Fall is an opportunity for new beginnings!
One of the great things about fall weather is layers! You can climb back into your fuzzy socks and wear blanket scarves or enjoy a simple warm sweater. The whole family can feel cozy and comfortable outdoors when enjoying the park on a brisk day. Take a moment and build a pile of fallen leaves with the kids and watch as they jump into the crunchy pillow-like mess.
Soups and stews begin making their way back onto the dining room table, as well as pumpkin everything. Pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cereal! Of course, most of these novelties are only on shelves and in stores for a limited time, so search for them early!
Other big flavors include hot chocolate, apple cider, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, and seasonal treats like popcorn balls and candy corn.
Laci Prucinsky, naturalist at Custer State Park, answers questions about what to expect in the fall and the why behind it!
Q: What causes leaves to change colors?
A: In the autumn, we begin to experience shorter days, longer nights, and cooling temperatures, which cause the production of chlorophyll, the pigment that makes leaves green, to slow and eventually stop. This allows the other colors to shine through!
Q: Why does the weather change?
A: During the summer, the northern hemisphere is tilted more toward the sun and receives more direct sunlight, which means warmer temperatures. During the winter, the opposite happens. Fall is the transition phase between these two seasons, making the temperature just right.
Q: What are the main differences between coniferous and deciduous trees?
A: The main difference is that coniferous trees don’t lose their leaves in the fall and winter. Deciduous trees also have broader leaves. On top of the leaves and cycle, conifer seeds are in the cones!
Q: What changes in wildlife can you see and hear?
A: It is common to hear a male elk bugle in the distance as it warns challengers off. Elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer will also have their full armor as their antlers are done growing and the soft, velvet covering has been shed. You can also hear the clacking as bucks fight for dominance.
Q: Why do the birds migrate south?
A: Finding food sources in the Black Hills, as a bird, can be difficult in colder weather because their normal food sources aren’t as available, so some animals and birds like Canadian geese, American robins, and painted lady butterflies go south to find food.
Q: What can hikers expect to see on trails?
A: In the fall, hikers might be lucky to find elderberries or raspberries that birds and other animals have left, as well as fall-blooming flowers like sunflowers, asters, blanket flowers, and woolly verbena.
Q: What produce is popular in the fall?
A: Apples, pumpkins, squash, and my personal favorite, Brussels sprouts!
WORDS: SARAH RICHARDS ILLUSTRATION: MACKENZIE YORDY