Farewell summer, hello fall

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

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Burrrrr…someone definitely put the brakes on warm temperatures this past weekend.

The thermometer went from 70 to 40 on Saturday afternoon, falling faster than the speed of my vehicle when I’m meeting a State Trooper.

Sunday morning was bright and sunny, but cold for this time of the year here in northeastern North Carolina. My trusty thermometer said it was 39 degrees at daybreak.

But then again, we are in the opening stages of the “Ber” months: September, October, November, December. Some call it autumn, others say fall (I guess in reference to the leaves changing from green to gold/red/brown before gently finding their way to the ground).

As described by Britannica, autumn is defined in the Northern Hemisphere as the period between the autumnal equinox (day and night equal in length which is typically September 22 or 23), and the winter solstice (the year’s shortest period of daylight that is usually on December 21 or 22).

The concept of autumn in European languages, according to Britannica, is connected with the harvesting of crops. In many cultures, autumn, like the other seasons, has been marked by rites and festivals revolving around the season’s importance in food production. Animals gather food in autumn in preparation for the coming winter, and those with fur often grow thicker coats.

Many birds migrate toward the Equator to escape the falling temperatures (somewhat like humans from northern states heading to Florida for the winter).

A common autumn phenomenon in the central and eastern United States and in Europe is Indian summer, a period of unseasonably warm weather that sometimes occurs in late October or November. That’s typically the case around here in our neck of the woods, so don’t put any your t-shirts and shorts any time soon.

As I mentioned earlier, autumn signals the most vivid time of the year as the leaves explode in bright colors. People will take note of the peak times to travel to higher elevations (close to home that would be the mountains of our state or up in Virginia) to witness this eye-popping, photo-snapping transformation.

Autumn’s arrival also triggers our bodies to find some type of warming mechanism. For my lovely wife, that means of stirring up a big pot of homemade beef and vegetable soup. As a matter of fact, she mentioned that very idea this past weekend, so I can expect that on the dinner table very, very soon.

It also sparks memories of classic phrases of the season. What follows are examples of a few I found online at County Living’s website:

“Pale amber sunlight falls across the reddening October trees, that hardly sway before a breeze as soft as summer: summer’s loss seems little dear on days like these.” Poem by Ernest Dowson.

“Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.” By Delia Owens from the book, “Where the Crawdads Sing.”

“Never jump in a pile of leaves with a wet sucker.” From the fictional character, Linus, in the TV movie: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

“Go, sit upon the lofty hill, and turn your eyes around, Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound. The summer sun is faint on them — The summer flowers depart — Sit still — as all transform’d to stone, except your musing heart.” From Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem – “The Autumn.”

“The heat of autumn is different from the heat of summer. One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.” By Jane Hirshfield’s “The Heat of Autumn.”

“It’s the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!” From the fictional character Winnie the Pooh in “Pooh’s Grand Adventure.”

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” By an unknown author.

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” By Chad Sugg

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” By L.M. Montgomery in the novel, “Anne of Green Gables.”

“I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.” By Dodinsky from “The Garden of Thoughts.”

“If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour.” By Victoria Erickson

“Autumn is the season to find contentment at home by paying attention to what we already have.” Unknown author

“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable…the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street…by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese.” By Hal Borland

“I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze. The sweet chill of pumpkin, and crisp sunburnt leaves.” By Ann Drake

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.” By John Donne

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.” By Stanley Horowitz

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the Earth seeking the successive autumns.” By George Eliot

“Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.” By Shira Tamir

For me personally, if there are perfect words to describe autumn, they would be: The smell of freshly dug peanuts mixed with the nostril flaring aroma of foliated cotton, all wrapped within a cool day under a brilliant blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds set against rust colored leaves and the promise of the enjoying it all again tomorrow.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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