Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The September door-slam

So far this year we’ve had a wintery winter, a springy spring, and a summery summer—nice change of pace after several years in a row with wild weather swings, scaring us all about climate change.

But this week, right on time, the season went ka-thud as if someone had slammed a door or thrown a switch. We’ve been creeping toward fall for a few weeks, but temperatures and overall weather have stayed clement enough for shorts and open windows, with the gardens a-burgeoning and birds a-twittering. Meanwhile, a little more light has been disappearing every day.

Then, overnight, it turned cold, dark, and soggy—penetratingly raw. Foliage that had been hinting at color flared into autumn hues. We’ve had to shut all windows and dig out jeans and sweatshirts. Booted up the boiler to start heating our mass-storage water tank for winter.

The cats stopped resisting coming in at night and resumed sleeping together in piles. The birds are either stuffing themselves at the feeder and gathering into noisy flocks, or else just disappearing—with the winter regulars returning to take their place.

Blossoms suddenly turned into seed heads. Dew is changing to frost, and daily highs have dropped 10–20 degrees no matter how sunny. We had a super-moon and almost an aurora borealis back to back for excitement, but those seemed to just augur the change now upon us. Equinox is only days away; snow, only weeks.

It’s funny, though. The same thing happens every year . . . but something about summer seduces you into forgetting. It works in reverse, too: Winter ka-thuds into spring. But spring and summer just kind of meld in a dynamic blur, an expansion vs. the fall–winter contraction. In these parts, really, what we have is Warm Season and Cold Season.

The shift between them just happened, making it time to button up and batten down.

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