Fall’s chill crept in during the night to surprise me with a morning shiver.

Stealthy Autumn usually arrives like that — a visitor that doesn’t call ahead, but knocks on your door at midnight.

Maybe I just didn’t check my messages to know she was coming.

One sign that should have allerted me to fall’s arrival was a flock of geese. Instead of thinking of fall, I looked at their perfect “V” and wondered how they chose their leader.

Was there a debate in which the gander with the loudest honk came out the victor?

Did a female have a chance at leading the flock?

Was it a popular vote or did they use something as silly and undemocratic as the Electoral College?

Maybe those thoughts themselves should have reminded me fall is here. The fall election has taken over the airwaves, even creeping into late night talk shows and the Comedy Channel.

Maybe that’s left my brain too numb to think of anything but the absurdity of politics. No doubt that’s what made me wonder if geese have a better way of selecting a leader.

Baseball should have made me realize fall is here.

The regular season has surrendered to the playoffs, and that has given way to the World Series. Post-season play and an absence of my Pirates’ participation is a sure sign of fall.

Football might have told me fall was arriving, but the Friday and Saturday night lights start to glow when it’s still too warm to think about cool winds.

As a boy I would have prepared for fall by checking out my shotgun and making sure I had an ample supply of shells.

For my father and me, fall was the time to put up fishing rods and pull out hunting gear.

If we had overlooked autumn’s arrival, our bird dog would have reminded us by jumping into the back of the station wagon the first time we opened its door.

She would have stood there prancing, feeling in her bones it was time to dash down ditch banks and freeze on a point.

Now a covey of quail is too hard to find to make hunting worthwhile. If I found a covey, I’d feel guilty about thinning its numbers.

Leaves gathering in my yard certainly were a hint of the change of seasons. So were the orange satsumas on trees in my little orchard.

Somehow none of those things reminded me this year to venture into the woods to cut deadfall and ready it with kindling to warm the first chilly morning.

Maybe if my son, Casey, who has long been my firewood-cutting companion, wasn’t half-a-globe away he would have reminded me.

When I think about it, though, cutting firewood has never been much fun until fall sneaks up with its first brisk day.

After I warm my hands around another mug of coffee, this might be a good time to start.

Email Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson at banderson@theadvocate.com.