Why is Fall the best of the four seasons?

Number 1 (for me) has to be the colors of Fall — they’re bright, warm, and make us (well, me, especially) want to be outside communing with Nature.

Beaver River Falls, Beaver Bay, MN

How could you resist a walk along this river admiring the fall foliage?  I think this is the last waterfall before the Beaver River empties into Lake Superior (near Beaver Bay).

Number 2 might be the temperature — warm days, cool nights, always changing, something for everyone…

mississippi-river-fall-color-

Perfect temperature for canoeing down the Mississippi River

mississippi-river-fall-color-

Or for studying outdoors in a warm, sunny space. If you get too warm, you can just move into more shade.

Number 3 is a little more abstract:  the effect of short daylength on our brains makes us a little lazy and lethargic (or is it the warm sunshine?); long nights give us the perfect excuse to get more sack time.  The end result is we might feel more rested and less stressed (or is it the warm, bright colors of fall that do that?).

human-hiberanation

Beginning in the Fall and continuing through the winter, extended periods of sleep are common in some human cultures. Drawing from the British Medical Journal article on Human Hibernation

Number 4 is the fact that Fall is harvest season — it’s a time of plenty, for both humans and animals.

Sometimes the "harvest" is almost too big to carry...

Sometimes the “harvest” is almost too big to carry…

Scads of berries, nuts, seeds, and fruits are available for primary consumers, along with a large supply of young, naive prey animals for the predators.

yellow-rumped-warbler-eating-cedar-berries

With their high sugar content (30%) these berries are a great resource for migratory birds like this Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler. Even the waxy coating on the berry can be utilized by the birds, whose digestive systems have been primed to secrete an enzyme to break down the wax esters.

At other times of year, consumers most likely face food shortages, with scanty plant and animal productivity during winter and spring, and limited food supplies during much of the summer as plants and animals are growing the next generation.

I’m sure there are many more reasons why Fall is the best time of year — or do you disagree?

mississippi-river-fall-color

Fall color along the Mississippi River. Click on the image for a larger view.

9 thoughts on “Why is Fall the best of the four seasons?

  1. Fall comes in at third place for me. I wonder what the criteria were to get published in the BMJ in 1900? Lasting on a crust of bread a day for six months doesn’t seem conducive to good health. Did their animals live on mouthful of hay too? I think some romanticism must have slipped in at that time. Amelia

    • Ooh, interesting, Amelia. What are your top two?

      Yes, I think criteria for publication in most journals around that time were quite different than today. However, I’m sure that sleeping most of the day would require a lot less energy than a normal day’s activity, and would therefore be a viable strategy for surviving on a limited food supply. So it’s possible that people slept more, ate less, and lost weight over the course of dark, cold winter days. Domestic animals can’t hibernate, so they would need more than a mouthful of hay, for sure. But deer routinely under-consume food all winter long, lower their daily energy demand by moving around less, and lose weight steadily all winter. It’s possible other domestic livestock could accommodate in the same manner. Thanks for your comments!

  2. I reckon a case could be made for all of the seasons. I guess spring and autumn may edge it, but I love the heat of the summer and the butterflies, and the cold of winter with it’s huge flocks of migrating birds (…and a few beers watching a game of rugby on a raw winter afternoon 🙂 ).

    • Oh, you’re heartier than I am, Finn. I am a winter wuss, and look forward to trips away from the Minnesota cold weather. But I agree that the other two seasons definitely have their pluses.

  3. I’m a big fan of Summer! Winter comes in dead last, by a long shot. Things are just so much easier in the warm weather and I feel better too. While I love the autumn colors and cool nights, my mold allergies and the thought of pending snow make it less favorable to me than spring when buds burst into bloom and birds migrate dressed in their bright plumage. 🙂

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