There’s suddenly a crispness to the air; mornings are cooler, leaves are more golden and smells are different, fresher, even cleaner.
All are signs that fall is being ushered in once again and that the remnants of one of the hottest summers on record is really, finally drawing to a close.
If you adhere to the National Weather Service’s thoughts, it says summer was actually over at midnight on Aug. 31, but the celestial calendar says it’s not over until Saturday, Sept. 22.
It’s called the autumnal equinox. That’s when, according to the NWS, the sun crosses the equator heading toward the Southern Hemisphere, and when day and night are equally 12 hours long, though technically that isn’t quite right since there will be a few minutes more daylight for a few days longer.
The autumnal equinox, like its spring counterpart and the summer and winter solstices, used to be a really big deal, back in the day when life centered around sunrise and sunset, long before there was artificial light.
There were festivals to mark the occasion. People enjoyed celebrating the change in seasons, even those sun-watchers who longed for the reversal which begins by changing courses on Dec. 22 when the sun crosses the equator on its way back north in what is referred to as the vernal equinox, which occurs on March 21.
But for now,the autumnal equinox is drawing nigh and, indeed, it’s time for a celebration of fall. We do that, now, even if we don’t realize that’s what we’re doing. Many of us will pack up and head to the mountains for a weekend tour of the changing colors of the leaves. We prepare for those favorite football games and anxiously wait for the time we can wrap in warm sweaters and cheerful thoughts. We buy pumpkins, plant mums and decorate our homes in the golds, oranges, reds and browns of the season. And we enjoy dinner on the grounds at churches, fall festivals at schools and county and state fairs throughout the region, all celebrations of cooler weather and the changes that come with it.
While spring is still considered a time of renewal, we should look at autumn as a time to shed the baggage we’ve gathered over time, replacing it with a lighter, crisper outlook on life. It can be a time for reflection, of remembrance, of a stiller, more peaceful time.
So as many football fans prepare for homecoming games and barbecue plate sales that will be here in just a few short weeks now, as farmers gather the last corn from their fields, as retailers put out their pumpkins and as youngsters dash off to play in piles of raked leaves, let’s take in a deep breath of this fresher air, inhale the smells that give us those butterfly-in-the stomach feelings and begin a news aspect of our lives.
Like the autumnal equinox, we, too, can change courses and bring change — to ourselves, to our communities and to others.