Fall Cleanup

October 10, 2011

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I don’t know about you, but fall is my favorite season. Sure there is a lot of work to do around the house, getting ready for winter and cleaning up mostly. Raking leaves out in bright sun shine with a good breeze is invigorating. Cutting back the perennials, pulling up the annuals and just looking up at the majesty of the trees establishes the boundary between summer and winter. The squirrels and rabbits dodge about gathering what they can for the days to come, and the kids rejoice in spreading the leaves that you have so carefully piled. This is not a one day effort. Every couple of days there is a new vista and more work. First the Ashes drop their bright yellow leaves, then the aspens and maples drop orange, yellows and reds, and finally the mighty oaks add their dazzling array of color to the mix.

The smells and sounds of the season are so rich. The maple leaves have the strong aroma of whisky barrels, the pines add their heady tar, and the final harvest of vegetables are a medley of smells. There is always at least one person in the neighborhood with an open pit fire going to add the feel of a campout. Everyone is out, talking about the year, talking about sports, worrying about the coming weather. When you have had enough (you are never truly done), you can head inside for more evidence of change.

There are football games, baseball games and cooking. Every house I enter this time of year is filled with the smells of wondrous foods. Some are canning for the winter, others are making pies, cookies, tailgate snacks, or other goodies. It is a good thing there is so much work to do, or we would all pack on extra pounds. We relish these days because we know that they are few. Soon, the World Series will be over, Halloween will be upon us, cold and rainy weather will dampen our spirits. We will still have football, good food and camaraderie to keep us going, at least through January. But for now, this is good season.

Fall Observations

September 21, 2011

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Fall (or Autumn) begins this week. Officially it starts at 9:04 UTC (3:04 AM Eastern time in the U.S.) on Friday Morning. That is the moment of the Autumnal Equinox or the point at which day and night are exactly equal. During the barbaric (pre-Christian) period of Europe and in some areas of Africa today, the Equinox (both vernal and autumnal) and the Solstice (Summer and Winter) are significant holidays. Although the Christian church did supplant the vernal equinox with Easter and the Winter Solstice with Christmas, the autumnal equinox has been left, not so much superseded, but ignored. Oh sure, some astronomy buffs may make a big deal about it, but most people do not even know that it is the true separation of summer and fall.

Science and technicalities aside, what does the transition from summer to fall actually mean? In most of the United States, school started almost a month ago. College football is already in its third week and professional football is in its second. There is still a month of baseball left. Politicians no longer wait for fall to start campaigning, you could actually say that this cycle began the day of the last presidential election. The new car models use to be released at the end of October, now they start in the spring. Halloween candy and decorations at one time went on sale at the start of fall, now they are on the shelves right after the school supplies are pulled. It seems that modern commercialism had done a better job of minimizing the importance of an old pagan holiday than the church.

Regardless of what importance Man puts on the seasonal transition, nature will continue as it always has. Nights will get longer, days will get cooler, the crops will mature. All this will happen whether there is a celebration or no, whether there is a sale or no, and whether you even notice the weatherman announce the fact of the equinox or not. Canadian geese are starting to head south. Some animals and insects will go into hibernation. All of these natural events will occur even without our acknowledgement.

I hope you do recognize this event. I am not asking anyone to participate in a pagan rite, just an observation of the beautifully cyclic dance of our world. Day to day, month to month, season to season and year to year, we get to experience miracles and spectacular displays. Take at least one opportunity to experience our world.