On the eve of welcoming in another autumn

On the eve of welcoming in another autumn
                        

Residents of the Northern Hemisphere are on the eve of yet another autumnal equinox. Autumn officially begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Autumn has given us plenty of warnings even before her arrival. Instead of turning red, many of the leaves on our backyard maple have simply been falling off one by one for weeks. We can thank the leaf-cutters for much of that.

The crazy weather of this insane year also has played a role in the dying leaves, along with other climatological irregularities. Let’s count the ways.

In late spring an extended spell of chilly, wet March-like days did their damage. The steady damp weather kept farmers out of fields over much of the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains.

Some bird species even delayed nesting because the weather was so foul. If birds did nest, naturalists found hatchlings dead because their parents couldn’t find enough insects to feed them.

Then just like that, it got hot and dry. Here in Western Virginia, the furnace was on one day and the air-conditioner the next. Vegetation flourished in such conditions, causing the humid, hot wind to carry a variety of pollens far and wide. According to my allergist, I wasn’t the only one sneezing.

About the time Major League Baseball finally began in July, the heavens opened up. The rains canceled games, and so did COVID-19 because too many players tested positive.

Record rains pelted the full length of the Shenandoah Valley. August usually is a hot and dry month here. Not this year. The weather was more like June should have been. We mowed our lush lawn twice a week for several consecutive weeks.

All the while, fall kept creeping upon us. Butterflies, relatively scarce during June and July, began to arrive, so did the ruby-throated hummingbirds. Now they are all filling up their tanks for their annual southern migration.

The yellow, green and black monarch caterpillars have morphed their way into magnificent orange and black butterflies. Predators have learned to avoid dining on them because the monarch’s appetite for milkweed renders them bitter, according to lepidopterists.

That dreaded F word (frost) has already made appearances across the northern reaches of the U.S. Can the rest of us be far behind?

If you listen to the jingles and jargon on TV, this is pumpkin spice everything season. Despite the marketing ploys, I’ll gladly stick to my decaf mocha lattes. They’ll taste just as robust when the first freeze hits.

Of course, hurricane season peaks in the first few weeks of fall. The National Hurricane Center has already increased its predictions for both the numbers and intensities of those tropical storms.

Out west, you can’t breathe the air. It’s so oppressively hot and thick with smoke from record-breaking fires that have caused death, destruction and devastation to humans, wildlife and entire towns. More than 10% of Oregon’s population has been evacuated as of this writing.

Unfortunately for those millions of West Coast folks, the sky has glowed an apocalyptic orange for all the wrong reasons. A good frost or even a lovely blanket of snow would greatly help those tired firefighters slow the infernos.

Autumn, of course, abounds with fiery colors, orange included. In addition to the winged creatures, mums, maples, pumpkins and gourds are but few of the things that warmly usher in fall.

Climate change has undoubtedly played a part in stirring up 2020’s weird and wild weather. It’s been a universally strange enough year already all the way around.

Let’s welcome fall with a blissful hope for more normal global weather patterns.

Bruce Stambaugh writes about nature, weather, hobbies and people, often using personal experiences. Much to their dismay, he also writes about his family. He uses humor and pathos when he can’t think of anything else to include. To read more The Rural View, visit Stambaugh at www.thebargainhunter.com.


Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load