As I sit outside, with Spike by his tree basking in the intense heat and humidity, I am sweating and wondering why I should write about the first sign of autumn. It's so hot and humid! I'm not complaining, but I'd rather be inside than outside right now. I do have to say, though, that even before the sumacs begin to change color, this first sign of autumn signals the downside of summer and the close start of school. What is this phenomena? It is the return of the Minnesota Vikings football team to Mankato for their training camp. For the last 40, Mankato has been the home of the Vikings from late July to early August. I think they are here for about 3 weeks. You can feel a change of energy in Mankato when the Vikings come to town. We have many visitors who come to celebrate the Vikings and wish them on to a fabulous year in football. Training camp is a big event. Big TV networks come to cover the Vikings as they tussle on the field for the spectators. Many children line up to see if they can catch an autograph from their favorite players. Things have changed, though, since we first moved to Mankato in training camp. For one, there used to be free with free access to the players for the kids. Now, there is a limited access to players, and it costs to go to training camp! Yet, there is still a festive mood with the many activities that are planned to celebrate the Vikings coming to Mankato. The local news is full of Viking activities. Our local TV station had a contest in which children auditioned to be able to interview, on TV, one of the Minnesota Vikings! I'm sure for the winner that is going to be a thrill! Today, as I was at the Mall, ready to walk in, two rather large men who were leaving the mall, wearing Vikings jerseys, saw me approach and returned to hold the door open for me. Wow! Their mamas raised them right! I'm not sure if they were Viking's players or not, but they sure were nice. Yes, today is one of the most hot and humid days we have had in a long time, but with training camp under way, we have the first sign of autumn on the horizon.