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Wild Side: Four ways to get out and enjoy fall

I am convinced that fall is the best season. This year fall is heaven sent. Maybe it is the contrast with the hot, dry, smoky summer. Perhaps you are feeling like I am and the sad state of our national affairs has you dispirited. Our country is going in the wrong direction on how we treat one another and the environment. Basic human rights we thought were a given are slipping away.

Then there’s the state of our natural world. A new climate change report paints a horribly dire picture. I wish it was just a picture. But, unfortunately, it’s the reality that is unfolding across the globe. The report, titled “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C,” released on Monday from the International Panel on Climate Change describes the dramatic changes to our planet if we fail to take action on climate change.

Significant, meaningful action is required if we are going to keep the world a livable place. If we fail to make real changes to our energy and natural resources policies, we will destroy the very systems that support life on earth.

If you really pay attention to what’s happening, it’s so disheartening that curling up in a ball and never leaving the house again seems like all you can muster.

But ... there’s an antidote out there right now.

Fall is here. It makes everything seem possible. I’m so thankful for fall and these the dramatic changes brought to our natural world. It gives me hope for the societal changes we desperately need. The colors are beaming in the hills from the hardwood trees. The rains are starting to awaken the mushrooms that will soon pop from the forest floor. The Pacific salmon are coming home to complete one of the most sacred cycles of life.

The earth feels alive again. On the societal level, we have an election right around the corner that could maybe, just maybe, usher in much-needed new leaders. People are waking up and paying close attention.

So, I urge you — get off the couch, uncurl yourself from that fetal position, and get outside. Because it’s outside that will give you a renewed sense of hope, and you will feel it in your bones that change, for the better, is possible, and within our reach.

A few suggestions for getting out there:

Go see the salmon. Join KS Wild and Rogue Riverkeeper staff to watch salmon swimming upstream to spawn! Every autumn, migrating Chinook salmon make their way up the Rogue River to spawning grounds in tributaries throughout the Rogue Valley. These educational strolls are free and great for people of all ages. Visit kswild.org and rogueriverkeeper.org for more details about where to meet up and what to bring. There are several hikes planned throughout October and early November. Space is limited for these popular walks, so sign up to reserve your spot.

Check out some shrooms. The Ashland Mushroom Fair is on! On Saturday, Oct. 13, local mushroom experts, enthusiasts and connoisseurs for a day of FUNgal explorations! There will be craft booths, food, demo’s, and local organizations in the Northwest Nature Shop alley between 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. There are also opportunities for local mushroom walks. Join KS Wild’s very own Tommy Brown at noon to learn how to make some specialty pasta dishes with locally foraged mushrooms! Check out www.northwestnatureshop.com for more information.

Get educated. There are also several events coming up around fire and climate change, including SOCAN’s Forests & Fire: The Climate Conundrum on Oct. 30 at the Medford Library starting at 6 p.m.

If you would rather get together and see some amazing movies about wild places and inspiring people working to protect them, the sixth annual Rogue Riverkeeper Wild & Scenic Film Festival is coming up from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the Historic Ashland Armory. Get your tickets at rogueriverkeeper.org.

I will see you there.

Joseph Vaile is executive director of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild, 541-488-5789, www.kswild.org). His Wild Side column appears every three weeks.

Oaks along the Rogue River remind us that change is in the air. (Photo by rogueriverkeeper.org)