The flowers of late autumn are disappearing.

  This has been an odd autumn, just as the previous three seasons have been unusual. It seems that the cycle has shifted somehow; on October 1st, when the northern prairie landscape normally is going into a slowdown to face the harshness of winter, we have a host of tiger lilies beginning a second round of blooms. Summer-bearing raspberries are laden with ripening fruit. Asparagus beds are sending up new sprouts as if it were spring. Our honey bees are bringing in pollen and nectar from unknown floral sources.

  The trees even seem to be holding on to their leaves, as if to extend the color into the monochrome palette of late autumn. Well, I'm all for it. Autumn has long been my favorite time of the year. The crispness of the early morning air, the angle of the sunlight striking the rooftops, the plaintive calls of migrating flocks passing overhead - it's all so amazing.

  But today I think the winds of change are coming. Strong gusts will make short work of the trees' desperate attempt to hold on to their golds and reds. Those same gusts will blow over  the raspberry canes and shrivel the remainng juicy berries. The honey bees will choose to stay in their hives rather than fight to stay aloft in the gale. And the last tiger lily will give up her burnt orange petals one by one as the winds of change usher in late fall.