“That old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air. … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning…”
~Wallace Stegner, 1909-1993
American writer, historian & environmentalist
On Sept. 22 at 1:44 p.m. PDT
arrives the first day of autumn, first day of fall, autumn equinox, September equinox, fall equinox. Many names, meaning all the same – a change of season. The summer of 2013 will be complete and autumn will begin.
Weather keeps no calendar, so classic visions of autumn and expectations of falling leaves, pumpkins and cool crisp days rarely coincide with our experiences, especially in Southern California. The other day at the Ralphs in La Crescenta was the perfect example. At both front door entrances and along the entire path between, the pumpkins had arrived in every size, shape and color. And with them came their relatives and friends – gourds, Indian corn, mums and bunches of leaves! Long gone were the displays of patio furniture and umbrellas though the temperatures climbed past 100 degrees that day. Whereas a nice comfortable chair in the shade and an iced tea would be welcomed, a big orange pumpkin rolls right in and disrupts. Do I smell hot spiced-apple cider, too? No! But all in good time…
I am noticing once again the subtle changes around me. The sun is rising later now and nightfall comes sooner. The sun’s path across the sky has shifted, leaving our pool now in the shade. As mentioned in past columns, the sky appears to take on a different hue, a more intense and blue one (though this observation is not scientifically based). Summer-like weather continues well into October. Although, as I finish-up my writing, the outside thermometer reads a much cooler 75 degrees.
No getting around the science of the season. The equinox is an astronomical event, its meaning derived from Latin – aequus (equal) and nox (night). Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres will receive an approximately equal share of the sun’s rays on Sept. 22. The Earth’s orbit is not upright, but is tilted on its axis by 23½ degrees and is continually moving around the sun; therefore the days of equal sunlight and night change quickly. Welcome, autumn!
Shorter days presumably bring cooler weather. Such is the case for the Crescenta Valley as a weak low pressure system allows for marine conditions to move onshore. A cool and slightly cloudy weekend is expected. At first, a full-on cold front was predicted. But things change as the NWS added, “It is never a good idea to bet on a (winter-type) cold front in September.”
In the upcoming days, enjoy the mild temperatures-with days around 80 and nights slipping below 60 degrees.
Tonight the legendary Harvest Moon shines as a pumpkin sits on our porch.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.