Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Autumn arrives!

When I was younger, autumn was my favourite season (even though it meant that school was starting up again). Eventually, when I began my career as a school band teacher, autumn began losing some of its lustre as my favourite (because it meant that school was starting up again).

Now my favourite season is summer. Though I no longer teach — except on special occasions — I still love summer more. I think it boils down to the length of the days. Those long summer evenings are absolutely golden, as are early summer mornings when the wind is still but the air is cool. What a wonderful time to sit and watch the world go by.

Still, autumn retains some of its charms for me. For one thing, I feel much more energized, and no, it has nothing to do with cooler weather. (I actually like hot weather.) For whatever reason, autumn’s arrival actually helps me focus better and get more done.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that autumn has arrived — at least as far as I’m concerned. Huh? It’s still summer Blechta! The calendar says so.

I disagree. Calendars are very arbitrary human inventions and mean absolutely nothing to the physical world. The earth thumbs its nose at our stupid expectations, courtesy of J. Caesar, Esq. I know with certainty that autumn arrived here in Ontario last week—if you were paying attention.

When our family was younger, the highlight of our summers was to camp in late August on Flowerpot Island off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. What made it so cool for all of us was that it was pretty rough, just a platform near the water (to protect the fragile ground) on six campsites and very seldom were all of those occupied. A few times, we were the only ones camping. Tour boats came to the dock all day long disgorging daytime visitors, but around 5:00, they stopped running and you were alone out there until the next morning around 9:30. We didn’t have cell phones in those days, so if something bad happened, you were stuck. But the solitude was also magnificent.

Experiencing the natural world like this brought you closer to it. You noticed more things: changes in the wind, changes in the temperature, and the state of the waves on Georgian Bay gave us a hint of something going on.

One day, we were walking to our favourite spot for swimming. Then something odd happened. You couldn’t see it or smell it, but you could certainly feel it. We walked through what felt like an invisible curtain. In one or two steps, we went from warm to chilly. It was probably a matter of a couple degrees, but it was certainly noticeable.

We stopped. What had happened? As it turned out, it was a weather front, a passage from a low-pressure southern system to a higher pressure northern system. We found out later while talking to one of the tour boat pilots that we’d actually walked through a change of seasons.

“Wind’s changed. The Bay will turn over tonight. You can bet on it.”


“Georgian Bay will turn over. That’s what happens on all the lakes at the beginning of autumn. The cold water from the bottom will flow to the top and everything will change. Happens every year.”

Sure enough, he was right. A wind came up with the high pressure system and over the course of the day, the water began to get cooler. Swimming out over the big underwater cliff that dropped straight down a few hundred feet, I could feel the rush of the colder water rising up and flipping the sun-warmed “summer water” down to the bottom. It was probably happening all along the Niagara Escarpment that runs down the eastern spine of the Bruce Peninsula.

Next morning it was noticeably cooler and feeling, well, autumn-ish. Yes, we had some more warm weather that year (as we are experiencing in Ontario currently), but it was clear that another summer had passed into memory.

We weren’t in the north last week, but knowing the signs, we could definitely feel the shift in seasons. My wife has noticed it in her gardens, too. The plants certainly know that it’s autumn. I haven’t seen or heard goldfinches in a couple of days. They’re always one of the first birds to leave.

I also know it happened, because I suddenly feel a shift in my energy levels. Time to begin getting more work done! This probably harkens back to the struggle to amass enough food to last through a long, cold winter, but I’ll use it. I’m waking up this week, ready to get to work.

Today I wrote 2000 words before even making coffee. If you knew me well, you’d know that’s pretty strange on its own.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Okay, so I was wrong. The goldfinches haven't headed south. I went out for my morning walk and saw and heard a good number of them. I guess they just don't want the thistle seed we have in our yard...ungrateful wretches.