inklings of autumn johanna_lea Aug 27, 2009 2 Comments

as we reach this time of year, at the end of summer in georgia, temperatures
can still range up into hot sticky afternoons. the actual seasonal shift begins
-almost unnoticed- in earliest fall as we slowly begin to cool off.
in the world of air-conditioning, many folks are quite unaware of the small
signs and changes in nature that announce the arrival of fall.
it seems to me such a loss to be so removed from the world around them.
i feel i am blessed to live away from the air and light pollution of the city...
out where the senses can perceive the smallest suggestions of autumn in the air.

there are many signs that indicate the turning of the season. if i began to
list them all, my post would be unbearably long! i can distill into three distinct
changes; 24 years of empirical evidence proves to be quite accurate here in
middle ga. it would be very interesting to know the "inklings" of autumn,
in your matter where you live [ except maybe on the equator]
there are bound to be hints. i'd like to hear them.

over the years, these three observations have been very reliable. it starts
with the slight transition to coolness in late august nights, leading into
more and more misty mornings. i get up very early in summer to work
outside and get the watering done.... it is unpleasantly hot by 9-ish.
now, my morning-time has stretched out into long sessions of pruning and
repotting the bonsai in the foggy air- these pleasant overcast hours
often lasting 'til almost lunchtime. humidity drops and comfort levels rise
during the eighty degree days. in my old house, with windows open,
the night air calls for a light blanket--early mornings can get a little chilly.
for those who live climate-controlled lives, this also goes by, unfelt.

along with the mists come the spiderwebs. the fog hangs on them like decoration,
making them visible everywhere. the spiders are very active and apparent in the
garden, around the greenhouse and strung from tree to tree. walking outdoors
first thing in the morning is not for a spider-phobe! you are forever wiping off
webs from your face, as well as an occasional displaced occupant...
there are three large black and yellow garden spiders living in the doorway
of the greenhouse, anchored to the climbing roses. i hate disturbing them
when i have to water, but they return, so the hunting there must be good.

a very old black walnut tree is next to the very old shed behind the house.
her branches arch high over my backyard. in ohio they are quite common,
but you dont see many, here on the edge of the piedmont.
this grandmother is the matriarch of the hill; i have several good size
trees around in the hedgerows and one out in a pasture.
if i were to stop mowing the grass [and her many seedlings]
there would be an orchard of walnut trees crowding the house.

this tree's leaves are always a pale green, and they begin to yellow in late august.
almost immediately, a occasional leaf drops in the breeze. at first this goes on
without much fanfare, but on a windy day, a golden flurry is a clear signal
to the observant eye. i have lived here long enough to recognize the message
in that first falling leaf. it most definitely announces the advent of fall.

morning mists, spiderwebs and a falling leaf...these three events follow
changes in the temperature and the weather, that in turn spring from
the earth's turning pathway around the sun.
they all are so closely linked, really interconnected parts of the whole shift.
the appearance of one after the other leads into our perfect weather at this
time of year..... the inklings of autumn.
i would gladly take any bets on nature's predictions.

as is my habit, i have written haiku about these three things, many times.
i will dig around in my notebooks and find a few.... however, my other habit is
literary dis-organization with many papers and tablets in dis-array.

maybe next time.
vty, j-lea

by Ilona Erwin

A gardener, blogger, writer, who has been blogging here since 2004, and writing for my website, Ilona's Garden since 1998.

Follow me @ Twitter | Facebook | Google Plus


  1. Li'l Ned12:23 PM

    Recently I've also been thinking about and noticing this subtle yet clear shift of season. My climate is quite different from yours (elevation 3600+ feet, high/cold desert, higher latitude) but the signals are similar. The abundant ponderosa pines in town drop their outermost set of 4" long needles, providing either overwintering mulch for the perennial gardener, or fodder for the city composting facility. But they need to be swept down from roofs and gutters before fall rainstorms and eventual snowfall. Yellowjackets are really abundant and extra touchy, as their nests are at maximum size and hunger. Ouch! Spiders start wandering in through open doors and windows. Eeek. And it suddenly dawns on me that the sun is rising a lot later, and setting a lot earlier, than was noticeable just a month ago. Equinox is coming. For me the biggest shift is that I start watching the thermometer a lot more closely as the evening comes on. The nights are cooling enough that I must start being vigilant about frost, and ready to head out with old sheets and row cover to protect my tomatoes for the last few weeks of their life.

    And although we don't do actual mist here, as fall approaches, we do get clouds. In a nearly perpetually-sunny climate, this is actually a treat. At our high altitude, in fall the sun moves across the sky at a lower angle, and this makes the sky a deeper blue, which looks so gorgeous in contrast with the clouds.

  2. johanna5:48 PM

    well, ned -- you must be out west!i have friends who moved to ga. from east oregon
    high-desert country, early frost was her main complaint, and gorgeous blue big sky was what
    she misses the most, living the south. it really is amazing how we notice these small things
    without thinking, also how interesting it is to hear about other places. thanks for your "inklings"


Thank you for taking time to comment on the blog. Your comments are very appreciated, and will be posted ASAP.

Green Garden Search