It’s the last day of September and here in northern California we can feel the seasons changing.
We don’t get the brilliant fall colors in the trees here like in New England. Our seasons change more subtlety.
Instead, we tend to notice the little things of seasonal change – like how dark it’s getting to be in the mornings. When we’re used to waking up with the sun already up and daylight outside to this morning where it was dark until almost 7 AM.
Likewise in the evening when the darkness settles in much earlier than we’re used to – and sometime soon we’ll have the startling shift of moving back from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time – giving us back a bit more of our morning light but robbing us even more of our evening light.
We also got a touch of very light rain overnight – the first glimmer of our traditional rainy season which will be here soon enough.
On my morning walk this morning, I noticed the splotches the rain left behind on the pavement. But what I first noticed was the first smells of fall – that smell of musty wet bark on the ground at our local park – a reminder for me of my years growing up in the midwest when the first good snow would fall and I’d notice how incredibly silent it would be outside – cold, crisp, still – and that beautiful silence.
Tomorrow we leave September behind and arrive in October. Fall is here.
Just for fun, I shared the text of this blog post with Claude, the AI chat bot from Anthropic, and asked it to transform it into the style of David Foster Wallace. It’s much more dramatic than my writing!…
The last grubby light of September drags itself wearily over the expanse that is northern California, but even this seemingly endless reach of suburbs and strip malls cannot escape the subtle signs announcing autumn’s ingress. We do not, it is true, experience the pyrotechnic explosion of foliage that sets New England ablaze in actinic oranges and cadaverous greens; our vegetation shifts from its summer torpor to its winter slumber far more discreetly.
And yet the evidence accumulates nonetheless: the darkened dawn that delays its arrival until nearly 7 a.m., the premature nightfall that plunges us into gloom while work and school still claim our attention.
Soon enough the yearly sham of Daylight Saving will end, returning some of the stolen sunlight to our mornings yet robbing even more from our evenings.
A damp breeze scuttles in, bearing advance notice of the imminent rainy season, and leaves behind scattered dark splashes on the pavement.
On my quotidian constitutional this morning, I detected more signs of autumn’s advent: the fungal reek of wet bark in the local park conjured sense-memories of Midwestern childhood, of the first snow’s hushed and glorious descent, the implacable cold, the crystalline perfection of utter silence.
September expires today; October arrives tomorrow. Autumn makes its presence known, however quietly. The year winds down.