In a way, the belly-aching makes sense. The fondness for fall colors and crisp autumn mornings is why people anticipate the change in seasons.

They grow weary of hot summer nights, air conditioning and the smell of sunscreen. They long for fire pits, sweatshirts and football players' playoff beards.

So when the temperatures go from sweltering to sweater-wearing overnight and the gradual unveiling of fall's beauty is lost, a general crankiness exists.

Waking Thursday morning to a couple inches of snow didn't ease any of that angst.

"I have leaves that haven't fallen and leaves that haven't turned a fall color, but I have snow," Quincy resident Andrew Copeland bemoaned. "I actually enjoy raking leaves because of the fun my kids and my dogs have jumping in those piles. All of that fun is lost.

"The beauty of it all has passed us by this year."

No, it hasn't.

You just have to look a little harder to see it all unfold.

The colors associated with fall -- deep reds, vibrant golds, sharp oranges -- come from the changing of the leaves and the ripening of pumpkins. Because of the late change in temperatures and the lack of frost, the color of the leaves has been muted.

It's more brown than anything, but it's enough of a contrast to the lush green the leaves once were that it becomes eye-catching and inviting.

It just depends on where you view them.

Take a drive along the Mississippi River north of Quincy right about 5:30 pm. and watch the setting sun disappear into the horizon. The orange, pink and red sky draws the color out of the leaves still hanging on the trees.

The reflection of the trees off the glassy sheen of the river highlights the changing seasons, not only with color but with lonely branches dropping leaves each time the wind blows.

The silhouette of a leaf-less tree reaching out over the water with the sun fading away is an eerie vision that fits the Halloween theme, even if the weather is more stocking stuffer than trick or treating.

An early morning trip outdoors will have you embracing the fall feel as well.

Just set your alarm to give yourself an extra 30 or 45 minutes. Fill your cup of coffee, grab your morning pastry or protein bar, and find a place where you can watch the sun rise unimpeded. Keep your eyes open for what rises with the sun -- deer, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, etc. -- and listen to what the morning sounds like.

The gobble of a turkey, the song of a sparrow, the pecking of a woodpecker, the cock-a-doodle-do of rooster.

Add those sounds to the churning of a combine engine, the dust rolling off fields being picked and plowed and the occasional pop of a shotgun since the fall waterfowl hunting season has opened and fall's beauty is at every turn.

It can't be just about the color of the leaves or the temperature of the morning or how it feels to sit around a fire at night. They are part of what makes this the best time of the year, but there is so much more.

There are deer on the move, birds in the air and a harvest moon to dance beneath.

Fall is a glorious time, and as much as it feels Mother Nature is cheating us with an early taste of winter, there is still beauty to behold. Just look around.

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