NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T.WAMPLER Jose Luis Landivar of Fayetteville walks along Leverette Ave. Wednesday Nov. 6, 2019 past a maple tree in full autumn color on his way to class at the University of Arkansas. The National Weather Service is calling for partly cloudy skies the rest of this week with overnight lows in the 40s.

The dusty summer road of wildflowers has changed into a muddy autumn road of leaves. Eastern tiger swallowtails are mating along the lane, where their many host trees grow abundantly and shade the ground with a shedding canopy of green, gold, maroon and brown. While out walking this week, I realized how much the changing seasons, weather and calendar affect the difference one can make in life.

Everything from the school year to a rare blizzard offers opportunities to help others and challenges to doing so. The 2009 ice storm created a unique opportunity to give immediate support to our local, urban neighborhoods as temporary public spaces were created to fill needs. Neighbors who wouldn’t normally interact were drawn together to survive. But the ice made even walking around quite challenging!

Occasionally, I’m caught off guard by an abrupt change that interrupts my habits. In the evening, the temperature may drop, allowing us to open windows to cool our cabin, but if we don’t notice, we sit in the heat long past the sun’s departure with its electricity-generating rays we need to run the air conditioner. It’s the same with helping the world; there are missed opportunities, delayed action or just distraction.

We’re transitioning away from summer and out of the period of time to make a difference in summery style. Mowing the grass with a “green” or more sustainable option won’t be an issue for much longer, once the growing season has passed. Growing organic vegetables is much more challenging as winter arrives, so enjoy the harvest while it lasts! But the departure of summer may be a welcome relief for those commuting by foot in the heat.

Autumn is almost here, bringing with it a better chance to harvest rainwater and use less air conditioning. It’s also a time to do wonderful things for wildlife, such as turning a jack-o-lantern into a feeder with seeds and nuts. Leaving the leaves in at least some parts of the yard helps nature regenerate, or you might use leaves as compost in specific areas of the garden or add them to the compost pile. Halloween offers a chance to buy fair trade chocolate or locally made goodies for trick-or-treaters instead of candy from brands that are known to use child slave labor in other parts of the world.

Calendars differ from person to person. Some calendars hang on the wall or glow from our phones or illuminate the night sky as the full moon does. These are helpful reminders but not exactly fortune-tellers. No two summers are quite alike when it comes to making ripples, and every autumn varies in its color as well as its opportunities and challenges. How can we make the most positive impact in the coming month? The calendar gives us clues to timely ways to lend a hand. But how we seize the day is up to us.

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at www.RipplesBlog.org.

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