July 14th, 2024

Autumn has officially arrived

By Lethbridge Herald on September 23, 2023.

Al Beeber – Managing Editor

Shortly after the clock struck midnight, summer was officially over. Yup, it’s done, finished. Hard to believe since it seems almost like yesterday it began.

But today marks the first official day of autumn – specifically starting at 12:49 a.m. this morning. This day also marks the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere, “the day of the year when the sun crosses the celestial equator moving southward,” according to a website I Googled.

And since everything on the internet is real, as we know, I’ll take a chance that it’s accurate. And from what I’ve been reading, autumn always falls close to or on the same day.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, autumn will be on Sept. 22 for the next three years. The celestial equator, says the Almanac in case you’re wondering, is “an imaginary extension of Earth’s equator line into space. The equinox occurs precisely when the sun’s centre passes through this line.”

As we know from personal experience, with autumn’s arrival days become shorter and nights longer which means the onset of that oft-dreaded darkness which can be smothering at times.

For people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder, this lack of sunlight can be the start of emotionally devastating times. Personally as a long-suffering Chicago Bears fan, I find the start of the NFL season triggers that same depression which inevitably lifts at playoff time because I can start cheering for a team that’s actually good for a few weeks.

According to the Almanac, “around the fall equinox, the full moon rises around sunset for several nights in a trow, traditionally providing farmers with just enough extra light to finish their harvests before the killing hard frosts of fall set in. Typically, the moon rises about an hour later each night but around the time of the fall equinox, the angle of the moon’s orbit and the tilt  of the Earth line up just right and cause the moon to rise only about 20 to 30 minutes later each night for several nights in a row.”

Another interesting fact, according to the Almanac, is that the colour of fall foliage isn’t caused by the weather conditions but rather leaves change colour because of the amount of sunlight and photosynthesis. Well, that was interesting to me and I’m sure someone on social media will say I should be smarter. 

The Almanac suggests we look at the arc of the sun each day as it begins shifting south because birds and butterflies migrate along its sun. This is definitely something I’ll be looking out for on my daily walks when I take them in daylight. And as readers know, my walks with the dogs tend to be in the dark a lot. I’m one of the early morning regulars at Nicholas Sheran Park who walk or run around the pathways at the same early hour each day pretty much seven days a week. Yesterday I was  actually there at 4 a.m. after a night of zero sleep following another hectic day.

But with Izzy dog now getting socialized, my weekend walks are now a little later so she and Ben can go straight  to the Riverstone dog park to play with the early bunch of dogs whose owners frequent that place.

Izzy had an initial anxiety around other dogs but a few of the Riverstone regulars convinced me to let her off the leash and she’s been at home ever since. That park has been a blessing for both her and old Ben, but especially Izzy who is completely worn out after a good session of sniff and chase. 

And with cooler morning temperatures, I’m now taking the dogs to Popson Park where until recently Ben hadn’t visited since April. Izzy, after initial reluctance, is now splashing in the river with wild abandon, gradually gaining confidence to venture farther after a stick.

But with shorter days, we will probably doing Popson after the Riverstone session where I’ve met recently some fantastic dog owners as well as their animals. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a pup and most people there have been really encouraging to me and Izzy. 

Of course, there’s always one or two people who can ruin the vibe for everyone but those have been few and far between in my experiences the last few weeks taking two dogs instead of just Ben, who will soon be turning the ripe old age of 11.

With shorter days, I’m sure we’ve all noticed how the mornings are definitely getting a bit chilly.

 We’ve been leaving the deck open to be safe in case Izzy has a late night emergency and the house definitely is frosty by dawn at times. 

As the Almanac says, with this time of year temperatures will be dropping and plant life as well as humans slowing down. I’m not sure about the latter because I have  no time to slow down but it’s definitely the season to start doing fall cleanup. 

And thanks to those new organics bins the City rolled out, the job is definitely easier. Those weekly pickups are allowing for some early shrub and vine trimming, meaning fewer trips to the waste recycling centre. 

Last year the towering poplars didn’t drop their leaves until November and by that time, the stations were closed so I was making a lot of trips out to the waste and recycling centre with the truck box loaded with leaf bags.

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