Maple leaves change colors before falling from the trees in Miller Park in 2017.

What a weekend.

Finally, after what felt like Aug. 53, the air cooled a bit and we enjoyed the beginning of what we’ve always counted on in North Carolina — a mild, temperate fall season. We tout four distinct seasons in our state, but the summer heat lingered so long that many were beginning to wonder if they’d accidentally woken up in Texas. Or a volcano.

The fall season officially began at 3:50 a.m. EDT, Monday, Sept. 23, as the sun crossed the celestial equator, heralding a transition to shorter days and longer nights. But honestly, did anyone feel like celebrating it then? September was brutal. The beginning of October was brutal. There may be a few stray brutal days ahead.

But for the most part, we can feel safe breaking out the long sleeves and opening the windows to fresh, cool air. Before long, the leaves will blaze with fall colors. Once more, we made it.

The more moderate temperatures we experience here will make it more pleasant to spend time outdoors, hiking, picnicking, enjoying this beautiful state we call home. And we have the places in which to do so, thanks to forebears who recognized the need to set aside precious acreage as park land, safe from overdevelopment and other forms of exploitation, for our recreational needs. Forsyth County, Stokes County and points west have invested in such places — actually, invested in people, many of whom are attached to the land by heritage. It should be treasured.

Society often keeps a different rhythm than nature, but even when the heat was stifling last month, the Earth knew the change was coming. Leaves have been falling from trees. Geese and grosbeaks, along with many other birds, have been making their way south for the winter. Snow was reported last week in Western states. Our planet is huge and both weather and climate are dynamic forces, measurable and somewhat predictable, but still able to throw a few surprises our way.

What a wonderful world.

The more pleasant temperatures arrived just in time to greet the Dixie Classic Fair, which opened Friday and will continue through Sunday, with all the expected staples: Figure 8 racing, demolition derbies, tractor pulls, rodeos and racing pigs. Stomach-churning, courage-challenging rides like the Claw, the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Wave Swinger.

There will be crowds of people. Anything that can be fried will be fried.

Our annual fair is a bright spot in Winston-Salem’s event-filled calendar, with something for everyone of every age. Most events are family-friendly and, with a strong police presence, the fair is safe. Plus, there are educational displays and awards for the best of everything.

“It’s a great place to bring your family, make memories, eat fried foods, ride the rides, and it’s a really good place for education too, for the kids, that’s what we like to focus on,” Cheryle Hartley, the fair director, told the Journal’s Tim Clodfelter last week.

As far as the controversy over the name of the fair goes: Forget it. Just go and have some fun.

The fair marks the beginning of what some consider to be our area’s best season, one that we hope will be filled with happy gatherings and good cheer for everyone.

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