And now, a glimpse of fall

Published 7:08 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2017

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After a lifetime of watching the sun rise and set, you would think that the lengthening of days in early summer and the shortening of them in August would be one of the dullest of all nature’s phenomena.

And yet, they are not. I still manage wake up every now and then and think, as though amazed, “Boy, the days are getting shorter” (or longer, if it is early summer.)

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There are always sharp shifts as cold fronts or heat waves move through, but generally nature’s seasonal changes are gentle, even subtle, in these parts, and that is especially true this time of year. Days remain hot, but usually are comfortably so, and with notable exceptions, the nights begin to cool down. Time to turn the AC off.

Light changes as the sun dips lower and skies clear as humidity retreats after its long summer stay. Together, they pave the way for the dramatic display of color to come.

And with the shortening of the days also come other signs of fall. The lush greens of early summer give way to the mature, aging greens of late summer, heralding the coming the show that is fall. And, though we are blessed with a long growing season, our summer gardens tell us that it is not endless. That, in fact, it will soon pass.

Sunrise and sunset tell us that another year is beginning to wind down, and I suspect oldsters of every generation have been heard to say, “Time sure flies.” And it does.

As nature’s year nears its end, though, the education year at all levels now begins and, it seems, always has. Part of the reason for the timing, I suspect, is that, for centuries now long passed, school-age youngsters were needed to help tend the summer crops that meant survival in an agrarian world. Up until my childhood, that was still the norm for many, though such a cycle is now a distant memory for all but a tiny fraction of the population.

Regardless of the reason, though, it seems somehow fitting that as nature begins its annual march toward dormancy, a new year begins to unfold for our children. New books, new classes, new teachers, football, pep rallies and so much more lie ahead for them.

By the time nature takes its final bow for another year, students will be well on their way into new explorations, new experiences and the promise of many years yet to come.

May they find good luck in all their efforts.