There are two separate dates which could be said to mark the start of autumn in calendars. One is defined by the Earth's axis and orbit around the Sun and the second is a fixed date which is used by meteorologists for consistent spacing and lengths of the seasons.
Solstices and equinoxes are considered to be the astronomical transition points between the seasons and mark key stages in the astronomical cycle of the Earth. In a year there are two equinoxes (spring and autumn) and two solstices (summer and winter). The dates of the Equinox and Solstice aren't fixed due to the Earth's elliptical orbit of the Sun. The Earth's orbit around the Sun means that in early January, the Sun is closest (known as perihelion) and in early July it is most distant (aphelion).
The turning of autumn leaves, so spectacular in New England, marks the change of season in dramatic fashion. With fall comes change, a new school year, and new possibilities for many of us. But change is not without regret, and the dying of the leaves may make us melancholy for the buds and rebirth of spring.
Since my last communique, autumnal weather and beautiful multicolored leaves have arrived here in southern New England. I love this time of year. I hope those of you in the northeast get a chance to enjoy the outdoors before the cold weather descends.
With Thursday, Sept. 22, marking the first day of autumn, the only chill in the air many Southern Californians will be feeling for the next week will be coming from their air conditioning as another heat wave prepares to grip the region.
We woke up to our headlamps reflecting the glitter of ice crystals this cold, autumn morning on the edge of the Trout Creek Mountains. Frosted tent. Numb fingers packing up. Breath fogging our headlamps. We were moving out of our beautiful camp just before sunrise, ascending a gentle jeep road into the mountains.
What a magnificent sunrise! What a gift for this equinox. Day that is half light and half dark. Hillside aglow in pink gold illuminating tall grasses, silver silhouettes of burned mahogany, and radiant mahogany in full stature. Birdsong chorusing out of bunchgrass and rabbitbrush thickets. Welcome autumn! Welcome yabano.
It was mostly an easy, pretty walking day. Plenty of opportunity to admire the early autumn colors: golden-green aspen, ruby red rose hips, orange and red dappled snowberry, last of the season red paintbrush, plump shiny black chokecherries, golden rabbitbrush. A beautiful fall day of good hiking. The afternoon was even warm enough for us to shed our insulating layers.
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This autumn reflection is being shared with you by Boreal Forest Citizen and Brickyard Creek community member, Zina Harrington. You might find Zina and her husband, Shad, with their two girls skipping rocks at the beach, roaming the community trails in Wellies or eating ice-cream downtown Bayfield.
According to the astronomical definition, fall begins with the autumnal equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, it's the September equinox; south of the equator, it is the equinox in March.
In the Northern Hemisphere, astronomical and meteorological autumn runs from September to December. South of the equator, it starts in March and ends in June. Read more about the history and meaning of the fall months:
In the other gardens And all up in the vale,From the autumn bonfires See the smoke trail!Pleasant summer over, And all the summer flowers,The red fire blazes, The grey smoke towers.Sing a song of seasons! Something bright in all!Flowers in the summer, Fires in the fall!
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The older of the two words is autumn, which first came into English in the 1300s from the Latin word autumnus. (Etymologists aren't sure where the Latin word came from.) It had extensive use right from its first appearance in English writing, and with good reason: the common name for this intermediary season prior to the arrival of autumn was harvest, which was potentially confusing, since harvest can refer to both the time when harvesting crops usually happens (autumn) as well as the actual harvesting of crops (harvest). The word autumn was, then, a big hit.
Names for the season didn't just end with autumn, however. Poets continued to be wowed by the changes autumn brought, and in time, the phrase "the fall of the leaves" came to be associated with the season. This was shortened in the 1600s to fall.
A handful of words got caught in the identity crisis, and fall was one of them. Both autumn and fall were born in Britain, and both emigrated to America. But autumn was, by far, the more popular term for quite a long time. In fact, the "autumn" sense of fall wasn't even entered into a dictionary until 1755, when Samuel Johnson first entered it in his Dictionary of the English Language. 781b155fdc