Spotting the signs announcing the official arrival of Fall

Published 5:44 pm Friday, September 24, 2021

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The first day of autumn (or fall, if you prefer to call it by its simpler name) is marked by the Autumnal Equinox every year. That’s when the daylight and nighttime hours are equal, instead of being unbalanced in favor of one side or the other.

That day was Sept. 22 this year, meaning we’ve all officially made it past summer once again. Cold weather friends, rejoice; hot weather friends, I mourn the impending loss of warm temperatures with you.

Nature is quite good at showing us signs that the season is changing, even if we don’t remember what day the equinox lands on each year.

I read a pretty nice list from on how to spot the first signs of autumn. As you can probably guess, it’s pretty straightforward. The leaves are going to start changing, giving us a dazzling display of color to break up the monotony of green we’ve enjoyed since springtime.

You’ll see birds start to migrate to their winter homes down south, all of them flying together in nicely coordinated groups.

And you’ll need to start watching out for falling tree seeds, lest they start landing on your head. I know acorns aren’t that big, but I still don’t want one bouncing off my skull while I’m out for a walk. (Pine cones are even worse!)

But signs from Mother Nature aren’t the only way to let us know that fall has arrived. Here are a couple of human signs I’ve personally noticed over the years:

1.) If orange and yellow are not your favorite colors, you’re out of luck. Everywhere you look, these colors will be there. Orange pumpkins resting on people’s front doorsteps. Yellowed corn husks providing the skeleton for decorative scarecrows. Cute wreaths and flags popping up all around to welcome the season, just in case there was any confusion about which one it is. Even people’s wardrobes start tending towards the “fall” colors. (Arbitrary fashion rules say we’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day, right? So now’s the time to pull out the orange, yellow, and even red cozy sweaters!)

2.) Speaking of clothes, walk into any clothing store and see all the “summer” items on sale. Of course, the best time to stock up on sundresses is when you won’t be able to wear them for another eight months or so.

3.) You flip the TV on and find a multitude of college and professional football games to watch. Nothing says “fall” like watching a bunch of guys “fall” on top of each other, right? Okay, I know “tackle” is the technical term, but each team is still falling over each other to try to get the football! Five out of seven days each week from now until January, you can find at least one football game being played somewhere. And you can hear plenty of discussion about those games on those other two days.

4.) Everything is dustier. You may be driving around and see that your view of the upcoming road is obstructed. Is it fog? Is it smoke? Nope, it’s just the dust from a farmer harvesting his crops. No need to worry. That’s perfectly normal for this time of year. But you do have to be extra careful driving if you happen to cross paths with a combine or other tractor wide enough to span both lanes of the road.

5.) Any conversation about the weather includes mention of whatever hurricanes and tropical storms are brewing in the Atlantic. Sure, hurricane season has been going on all summer, but it’s the fall season when they seem to cause the most problems, and therefore, take up more of our attention. (Fingers crossed these conversations this year are ones of relief that all the hurricanes stay out to sea.)

6.) You get surprised when it starts getting darker earlier and earlier. This one gets me every year! You leave the house in the morning and get home at your regular time, but suddenly you have to start fumbling for a light switch or a lamp when you arrive instead of relying on sunlight streaming through the windows. For me, this is the biggest sign that autumn is finally on its way. And forgive me for making the same joke twice in one column, but nothing says “fall” like the feeling of “falling” and tripping over things in the dark before you get the light on. Right? Or is that just me?

How many signs of autumn have you spotted so far? Which ones did I miss?

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.