The Autumnal Equinox

I’m always amazed how quickly things change when the official first day of fall arrives.  The equinox (the date when day and night are of equal length) only happens twice a year, spring and fall.  Here in the northern hemisphere, the spring equinox signals we’re DSCN0162heading toward the long days of summer, culminating in Midsummer, or the summer solstice.  The fall equinox means  the shorter days and longer nights are accelerating toward winter, peaking at the winter solstice, or the shortest day.  Then the days slowly get longer again.  The cycle is as old as the earth itself, I suppose.

Here’s a cool infographic that explains why this happens:  http://www.livescience.com/31264-season-season-earth-equinoxes-solstices-infographic.html

Fall is a melancholy time of year, but to me it’s the most beautiful.  I love it that summer goes away in a burst of bright colors before the bleakness of winter.  The leaves haven’t started changing yet where I live, but the weather is slowly cooling, and it’s harder to get up before 7 a.m. when the sun rises.

As a child I remember looking forward to Halloween and Thanksgiving.  I didn’t look forward so much to standing out in the dark, waiting for the school bus in the morning!  I remember seeing the sun come up from a school bus window as the bus wound its way through the hills of the countryside, mist rising from the hollows.

And here in Sleepy Hollow Country, Halloween has turned into a big celebration!  I’m still stunned to see busloads of tourists coming down Route 9.

Let’s enjoy the brilliance of fall.  Winter comes soon enough.

Small Pleasures, Summer Edition

Summer doesn’t officially end until the autumnal equinox on September 22, but for most of us Labor Day weekend spells the end of summer.  My teacher friends are already going back to work!  So this is a short recap of inexpensive summer pleasures.  I hope you’ve already enjoyed most of them.  If not, you have two weeks!

  • Pedicures.  There’s something about bright toenails that always cheers me up.  Getting your nails done is cheap in my area.  But I spent many a day in my youth with Revlon or Sally Hanson products, striving for the perfect red.  Boys, please don’t do polish unless it’s black!
  • Homegrown tomatoes.  The season is peaking here, but it won’t last much longer anywhere.  Get ’em from your neighbor, get ’em from a farm stand, but don’t miss that juicy flavor.  A childhood favorite:  Sandwich with toasted white bread, mayonnaise, thick slices of tomato, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add bacon to that, and you have heaven on earth.  Purely southern edition:  Hot biscuit with butter and thick slice of tomato, salted and peppered.
  • Re-read a favorite book.  Some of my friends think this is crazy, but I count a summer wasted that doesn’t include either Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion.  Romance novels and Agatha Christies count as well–whatever makes you feel relaxed and good.
  • Ride a bike.  Not a racing bike with all the paraphernalia, just a plain old bike like a beach cruiser with coaster brakes.  It’ll make you feel like a kid again.
  • See a movie in an actual movie theater.  Bonus points if you can find a drive-in and stay awake through the feature!
  • Go to one last free outdoor concert.  Especially since the heat has finally broken, it’s a great time to hear music in the open air.  This is a pleasure that definitely disappears when fall draws in.  It’s extra fun if you can bring a picnic, especially one that doesn’t take a lot of work.
  • Baseball.  They don’t call them the Boys of Summer for nothing.  If you’re not a baseball fan, then watch anyone do something that requires them to run around in the hot sun (and you to watch.)
  • Get one small thing that reminds you of this summer, whether it’s a photo, a postcard or a picture torn out of a magazine, and put it on your refrigerator or bulletin board.  Do not look at it until the first rainy day in November.

Let me know if there are any other pleasures I forgot.  Grilled hot dogs?  Watermelon?  Kickball?  And enjoy the remaining days before the leaves begin to fall.