Autumn never arrives all at once here on the coast.
Officially, Sept. 22 is the first day of fall. Unofficially, it might be the day after Labour Day (the return to school for many) or the first day the temperature really drops, or the start of the apple harvest.
But fall is tricky. We’ll get some torrential downpours, maybe even weeks of wet and cool autumn weather, and then we’ll get a week of warm sunshine again.
The equinox is as good a marker as any. That’s the day Earth’s orbit tilts us so that night and day are just about equally balanced. From here on in, it gets darker and darker and darker… until the winter solstice gives us some relief just before Christmas.
There’s also the moons, if you prefer. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the equinox, so we had that one a few days back. The next full moon, usually in October, is the Hunter’s Moon, supposedly named for that being the season for hunting deer.
Closer to the earth, we get the first frost of the year, the falling of the leaves – usually around here they fall in a big, wet, brown clump.
I used to hate fall. It’s the death of summer. The longer nights and shorter days, the dwindling sunlight, the increasing cloud and rain. Your shoes will get damp, your coat will dribble water on the floors, the rain will rattle in the drainpipes. There will be two months of Hallowe’en decorations, when you only need one. (Maybe one and a half.)
Now I don’t mind autumn so much. The cooler air is more comfortable than summer heat blazing off asphalt. The rain on roofs and windows is soothing. The darkness? Not my favourite, but a reading lamp, a book, and a cup of hot chocolate is a good prescription to ward off its ill effects for a while.
Maybe I’m just getting older and settling into autumn.
Summer is a child’s season. Summer vacation, waterslides and water guns, barefoot days in the backyard – those are for kids.
As adults we don’t get to do as much of that fun summer stuff. (Not until I get my full time water-gun tester job, anyway.) So the pleasures of autumn become more important.
Autumn, however, is still not quite here. We’ve probably got a day or two of summer left hiding out there somewhere, ready to spring out and attack with heat and sunshine. Just enough to remind us that we’ll miss it, over the next nine months or so.