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NatureZen: Could It Be…Actual Fall?

12 seasons of Memphiswords and photos by Melissa McMasters

Every year after the calendar tells us that fall has officially arrived, we experience a few days of glorious crisp temperatures followed by the cruel return of heat and humidity. The meme about Memphis’s twelve seasons begins to recirculate on social media, reminding us that we get fooled every year. But our 10-day forecast indicates that Actual Fall is trying to assert itself, despite a couple of 80-degree days. So here’s a little celebration of the transition between all those summers and genuine sweater weather.

‘Tis the season for…
Songbirds like this American goldfinch to enjoy a thistle-seed snack.

American goldfinch
Blue skies filled with soaring red-tailed hawks.

Red-tailed hawk
Finding a patch of those first colorful leaves on the ground (these belong to a sweetgum in the Old Forest).

American sweetgum
Mushrooms, like this crowded parchment, that are just as colorful as leaves.

Crowded parchment
Noticing that a fan-shaped jelly fungus and a green treefrog cling to branches in a remarkably similar way.

Jelly fungus and green treefrog
Profusions of calico aster flowers dancing with tiny sweat bees.

Calico aster
Fraternal potter wasps duking it out for prime position on a goldenrod bloom.

Fraternal potter wasps
Butterflies, like this common buckeye, flying until their worn wings give out.

Common buckeye
Leafcutter bees finding the last blossoms on a nearly-spent vervain plant.

Leafcutter bee on vervain
Measuring the black bands on woolly bears (the caterpillar of the Isabella tiger moth) to see how harsh our winter will be. (Judging from this wee one…not very!)

Isabella tiger moth
Watching the greenbriers‘ heart-shaped leaves turn splotchy.

Spooky-season spider webs like the one made by this duo of banded garden spiders (the small one is the male!).

Banded garden spiders
Watching the last of the gulf fritillaries shine against a goldenrod backdrop, and then spotting the next generation in a nearby caterpillar.

Gulf fritillaries

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