Now that we’ve passed the autumnal equinox, all the signs that summer is over have become more prevalent. Of course, there are the birds, having shed their breeding colors and stopped their incessant singing. But, there are many other signs.
For one, the nights are cool and crisp, the air taking on a taste (or is it a touch?) that snaps as I move through it. And the nights come faster, the sun setting earlier each night, while the mornings drag along, the sun too sleepy to rise.
Leaves have started blowing along the paths in the park, crunching underfoot and crackling against concrete as they dance in the breeze. The leaves that remain on the trees have shifted from deep green to something a women’s clothing catalog might call chartreuse.
As I walk Tisen longer and longer before dawn, Venus continues to shine brilliantly as if it’s late at night. Combined with the waxing moon, I find myself confused as to whether I’m getting up or going to bed. With the morning temperatures calling for a fleece, I’m tempted to go to bed.
The pots of summer flowers on neighbors’ balconies have disappeared and been replaced with mums in fall colors. Some even have pumpkins and halloween decorations displayed. The stores have already stocked halloween candy (betting on compulsive sugar-eaters like me buying early and eating what they buy and having to replenish before trick or treat).
Yet, there are still persistent remnants of summer. The Tennessee River remains the temperature of a warm bath (how I know that is a subject for another blog post). The late afternoon temperatures still reach the mid to high 80’s. And, on weekends, local families still gather on the sledding hill.
Just over a year ago, I did a post called Southern Sledding. This was the most fascinating tradition to me. It struck me as odd that up North, it had never occurred to us to sled on grass. We waited around for 10 months out of the year day dreaming about when we could go sledding again, hoping against hope that we’d get enough snow over Christmas vacation (which never happened). And then hoping for enough snow to close the schools so we could go sledding instead of going to school (which rarely happened). Perhaps we liked the idea of sledding more than the reality of sledding and that’s what kept us from thinking of sledding in warmer weather on the grass?
Whatever the reason, the sledding hill seems to be more crowded now as if everyone who never got around to grass sledding during the summer is trying to get it in before the weather changes.
This is one tradition I have yet to try. I keep waiting for someone to offer a class on proper technique. I guess I, too, will have to try to get it in before the rains start. Perhaps I will take a lesson from one of my subjects and wear a helmet.