As you rake leaves, the golden and russet carpet being piled up reveals thriving green underneath, and you feel like you’re letting summer live just a little longer.
Here in Fort Wayne, we have a beautiful fall season. Downtown, you’ll see mountain ash trees burst into a confetti of yellow gold, twirling and spinning over the sidewalks into the streets. In the suburbs, there are perfectly shaped little maple trees, or crab apples, tinting themselves a deep russet or magenta within someone’s front yard. And if you head out into the country, there are roads that tunnel through the trees like mines, flickering all shades of autumnal glory in the fading sunlight.
Downtown, to get the most out of the season, take a walk to the Botanical Conservatory, or through the Lakeside Park and Rose Garden. State Street extends from a spacious four-lanes in the east to a cozy roadway as it winds west. Downtown is also where we have many bridges over the three rivers of the region. Snatch a glimpse of the river landscape, maybe close to the Old Fort. Somehow, seeing the trees crowd up close to the water and change colors with a swampy sawyer (a dead tree that yawns up from the wet depths) every so often makes you think of how the area looked when only the Miami saw it.
If you move out towards the suburbs, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo has a wonderful ‘last day’ celebration in mid-October. Come on – or before – closing day to see the animals. But also drink in the beautiful landscaping there: in the African Journey area, the tall grasses whisper brittle and golden over the trickling creek. Peacocks imperiously nibble from pumpkins. Corn shocks nod and pose against sign poles and fences, lending an otherworldly aura to the area.
Take a walk at the outdoor mall Jefferson Pointe Shopping Centre – or try out the 1.7-mile paved trail near the Salomon Farm Park. The nearby YMCA has a pond that looks like a perfect little piece of the far north – rushes, waterfowl, and all. Bring your own buffalo-check jacket.
In the countryside, you’ll find plenty of places to absorb the season. It’s like your car is the only vehicle out there, on St. Joe Road, or maybe out towards New Haven. Drive with care, as many Amish horse-and-buggy units are out and about. But there are also plenty of places to find pumpkins and other fall produce, such as at Schmucker’s Produce Farm. Corn stalks are left standing in many fields, the ears and leaves parching in the broad sunlight and cooler temperatures.
Fort Wayne in the autumn is a wonderful blending of summer and winter: it’s warm, once the sun gets going in the afternoon. But there’s a delicious nip in the air when you step into the morning light. And once dusk falls, the faintest traces of winter curl around the low spots, leaving a dash of frost as a calling card.
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