I just might love autumn more than the other seasons of the year, but I have a little trouble celebrating it as I see fit in its early days. For all my talk about seasons starting as infants and maturing with time, factions within the family prefer to delay the onset of autumn to preserve “summer” birthdays. Because of this, I have to be discrete about welcoming autumn at least until after August 10th.
After a few days of hot sunshine right at the end of the “dog days,” our weather turned cooler and more autumnal. This in itself is no clear indicator, as much of the summer was cool and windy. There are other, more telling signs:
The hermit thrushes are still with us. We see them in the yard, and hear their contact call (“Wheep? Wheep?”) in the forest, but their beautiful summer song has fallen silent.
The squirrels have begun cutting spruce cones to cache for winter. They whack against our metal roof with surprising volume and frequency, especially in the early morning.
The hummingbirds have flown, except for an occasional visitor stopping through on her way south from farther north.
Darkness is returning quickly. It’s pretty much full dark by 10:00 pm. now. We’ve already gotten caught out after dark without headlamps this year; we’ll habitually carry headlamps on any trip to town that might run late from now until next summer.
Turning leaves, the most classic sign of autumn, are appearing here and there.
All of these add up to something I’ve been looking forward to for a while: playing George Winston’s Autumn on the stereo! For me, this CD has been the soundtrack of autumn ever since 1985 or so. Michelle once remarked that she would play it at my funeral, because she’d come to associate the music with me. I asked that she only do that should I pass away in autumn! I only play it at this time of year, but I try to hold off as long as possible, rather than play it before her birthday. I confess, I’ve snuck a few listens on days when I’m alone on the homestead, but as the season advances, I get to play it more often.