Autumn brings changes, color, and new activities

Published 7:57 pm Saturday, September 21, 2019

Tomorrow is the first day of autumn.

The calendar says summer is over, but not hardly as the heat ramps up again next weekend with 90s in the forecast for the first weekend of autumn.

The slant of the sun has dropped slightly in the sky and lengthened afternoon shadows. An after-dinner walk ends in darkness as daylight hours dwindle. The crickets’ chirping seems to have a new urgency in the evening air. Blankets creep up over the sheets as good sleeping weather slips in through the screens.

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A new slant of light signals the changing season even in the heat of the season, and the ruby-throated hummingbirds know it. In the yard, the hummingbird wars are always the earliest sign of the coming fall, as the birds bulk up for their long flight, guarding every nectar source before they go. Soon they will make their way south to their wintering grounds in Central America. Some will go by land. Others will fly on their impossibly tiny wings all the way across the Gulf of Mexico. In the meantime, they fight for dominance over the feeders on the lawn.

Pumpkins are appearing at farm stands as are fall apple crops. Reports say this year’s harvest has been early and bountiful because the warm weather came early and never left. Perhaps the only problem with such a surfeit is the temptation to buy more than can be easily eaten.

Fall is a beautiful season. It’s a calming season. In the next few weeks, the leaves will begin to turn colors, and we are living in an area which is among the best to view the transformation. Trees are plentiful, and the vibrant colors they will soon produce can be viewed everywhere, from city streets to mountain roads.

Sports fans can enjoy baseball and football at the same time. Fans of all things frightening can gear up for Halloween, something many now do weeks in advance of the Oct. 31 date. We already are seeing yards decorated with ghosts and goblins, and they will become even more common as September turns toward October.

Alas, enjoy it while it lasts. By the time November rolls around, signs of winter will be evident. Outdoor activities will slow to a minimum as it’s hard to work them in during a day which includes just nine hours of daylight. Of course, when there is a foot of snow piled up on your driveway and your car isn’t going anywhere until you move it aside, venturing outdoors becomes a necessity, rather than a choice.

So, while you’re reaching for that flannel shirt, which is perfect fall apparel, you might want to dig out your coat, hat and gloves, too. Unless you’re a snowbird, you’re going to need them before you know it.

There’s much to like about fall — the cool mornings and evening, jeans, hoodies, hot chocolate, boots, bright leaves, chilly days, candy corn, sweaters, scarves. Breath ghosts, spider dads, grasshoppers and woolly worms. Cold nights, warm fires, roasted marshmallows. Mosquito corpses, sentient acorns, apple cider screaming. Applebutter and nutmeg weather.

But for now, there is time left for trips to the beach or pool, for backyard football, and neighborhood barbecues, at which the talk drifts into the night. But these are the last times; the ones to be savored. Because soon, too soon, we won’t know where the time has gone.

The first signs of a changing season remind us that nothing — bad or good — is bound to last.