Autumn morning

I know. It’s late July. The height of summer. Zucchini and cucumber plants are practically walking from the garden to the back door, demanding attention.

But I’m telling you, this morning was an autumn morning here in the deep Catskills. One of those chill, crisp mornings that will inevitably burn off into a hot summer day.

Until now, mornings have been warm, sometimes almost heavy with humidity and latent heat.

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This one is different. Fall is in the air.

I have maintained for several years now that our seasons do not align with our calendar the way they did when I was young. For one, the shift of sunlight that we associate with spring happens dead in the center of winter now. I look over a snow-covered meadow and am irrationally buoyed, convinced that warmer weather is bound to be coming any day. I’m always wrong. But the sun is nice.

And by August, the shifts back to that anemic, long-angled light that makes many of us think about sweaters, closed windows, and a hot cup of tea has already happened.

So late July, which I associate with summer and heat and cotton dresses, now features mornings that require a sweater.

I have no scientific basis for my conviction that the seasons have changed, but I am convinced just the same. I looked to see what science says, and the studies are not satisfying. They have found that the seasons have shifted backward by two days. I think the sunlight has changed a lot more than that. But they do find that winter and summer are both warmer, with winter warming more quickly than summer.

I know that the angle of the earth’s orbit affects how the sun hits us, and I read enough to understand that not only does the angle of inclination change, but so does our actual orbit. However, neither of those changes will happen in one, two, three, or even a thousand of my lifetimes. So I don’t think that’s the explanation.

Could it be my eyesight? Anything’s possible, but that’s not a likely reason. Could it be climate change? Certainly. And I’m sure that’s a factor. Or, most likely, it’s a combination of many factors, as almost everything is.

Meanwhile, I’m wearing a sweater.


Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.

There are 2 comments

  1. D Carter

    Reading this in the English Lake District: late July morning; blue skies and pale sun; courgettes bursting out all over and the hedgerows are full of meadowsweet and blackberries. It’s autumn. It’s the start of the school summer holidays and it’s autumn. Happens every year.

  2. JR

    Barnett is correct, and her observations are perfectly illustrated, and I’m mighty grateful to have come across the piece. It may reassure somewhat that the angle of the poles did shift – what was it – 5, 8? years ago. Adjusting to this is impossible.

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