Hello, Autumn

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 8:30am

    So long, Summer 2021, you sodden, humid, and yet perfectly glorious Maine season. Thank you for the explosion of tomatoes and garden growth, for the warmth and the lovely month of June weather (July, not so much. And no thanks for the mold you engendered).

    The sea was teeming with fish – big schools of leaping pogies and mackerel, and we had fun in the outdoors, meeting with friends on paths, on patios for happy hour, and comparing notes about the pandemic and times in which we live. The summer people poured into the state and we withstood the strain, mostly with grace, but not always. Sometimes our tempers got the better of us.

    A full moon on Sept. 20 ushered in the feeling of fall, and one friend looked up to notice, “hey, the leaves are changing.”

    Jack Frost is on the approach.

    But if we didn't like meteorological change, we wouldn't be living in Maine, the land of rapidly shifting air masses and sometimes very weird weather. So out with summer, and in with autumn!

    "Come said the wind to
    the leaves one day,
    Come o're the meadows
    and we will play.
    Put on your dresses
    scarlet and gold,
    For summer is gone
    and the days grow cold."
          -  A Children's Song of the 1880s

    On Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at 3:21 pm EDT,  Fall 2021, will officially be ushered in by the autumnal equinox, that celestial instance when day and night are of equal length (equinox, from Latin, means equal night). The autumnal equinox occurs when the sun's movement crosses the celestial equator moving from north to south.

    From the website EarthSky: "Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23-and-a-half degrees, earth’s northern and southern hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. We have an equinox twice a year – spring and fall – when the tilt of the earth’s axis and earth’s orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun."

    The equinox is the great equalizer. It is the time, twice in a year, when just about everywhere on earth is privy to 12 hour of day and 12 hours of night. Now, the days will get shorter and shorter, until late December, when we will be putting our lights on at 3:30 p.m. and rising in the dark morning to greet the day. A far cry from those short, sweet nights of July, when the last glimpse of daylight was visible until 10 p.m. and the birds were signing at 4 a.m. -- if not all night long.

    Here we go, though. Time to stack the wood, bank the house, pull sweaters out of the drawers, and harvest the garden. For many, it is the favorite time of year. One thing is certain: it won't last.