A change in the weather. Shudder.
The first hint of fall came to my yard this week. No need to hunt for the snow shovel. More than likely we have two months of summer ahead. (For the purposes of this essay, “summer” and “fall” refer to weather characteristic of the period, not to the calendar.)
I await that first hint every year in dread. I’m a summer guy; anything that can’t be done in shorts or naked isn’t worth doing. If I never see another snowflake or endure a day below 50 degrees, fine with me.
My yard is a reliable place to spot the change. I’ve kept a garden log for almost three decades, trying to figure out patterns and planting times. Looking back now, events I interpret as signs of climate change are everywhere: date of the first crocus, bloom of the forsythia, freezing of the tomatoes. These phenomena come a week to 10 days earlier (later, for the tomatoes) now than they did in 1980, which may mean something or nothing.
That first glimpse of fall, though, has arrived in mid-August without fail.
I don’t know if that means anything, either. It’s mostly subjective—I’ll be cutting grass or caulking around a window, and something will feel autumnal. Often I can’t pin down what it is.
Last Tuesday, though, the temperature was 25 degrees lower than it had been the day before. A random breeze swirled a few leaves across the lawn. More than anything, there was something about the light.
We live up against the Sierra, so small changes in the angle of the sun make obvious differences in the way the light hits the garden.
The message was unmistakable: We’re past the peak. Summer, if not over, is on its way out.
Normally this tickles the trigger of my winter-long depression. Sure, it’s nice now, but for how long? First comes the solstice, then the leaves fall, and pretty soon you’re sitting on your butt in the driveway wishing you’d put the snow tires on last week.
This year, not so much. I’m still not eager for Purgatory, which some calendars spell F-E-B-R-U-A-R-Y. April will be as welcome as always. Ice belongs in drinks, not running free.
For the first time, though, summer has worn out its welcome. Flirting with 100 degrees has ground me down.
Just give me October, and I’ll figure out what to do about January when it gets here.