Province Almanac for September 22nd, 2016. Today we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox - the first day of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere - "when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal."
Fall has always been a melancholic season for me. One associated with going back to school, cutting and piling winter firewood, and the arrival of colder darker days. To get through those short Fall days and long Michigan winters I used to look up at the cloud cover that sometimes stretched for weeks and remind myself that just above that gray blanket the sun was shining and the sky was blue. If you hopped on a jet plane, you could burst through the winter doldrums and in minutes be right back in the summer sun.
Now that I've hopped that jet plane to L.A., I still have to remind my conditioned brain that I don't have to worry about winter storms or keeping the wood fire burning through the night. It's my second autumn in California and my heart still sinks a moment when I wake to morning clouds. The marine fog layer yet to dissolve in the afternoon sun.
At noon today I spotted a brush fire in Elysian park. Just across the valley on the neighboring hill, in the shadow of downtown Los Angeles and adjacent to Dodger's Stadium, the smoke plume grew quickly and I was glued to its drama like a television set. Three water dropping choppers and a crew of 100 on the ground. With fire dangers at their red-flagged peak in this week's stretch of 90 degree days, whatever they call winter here is still a long ways away.
I did some writing today then drove down the hill to drop off a shipment of vintage at the post office. When I came home I took a walk through the garden to see how the plants are coping with the first day of fall. Pretty much the same way they did the last day of summer, I suppose. I wonder if this baby watermelon will work overtime to present us with a Halloween treat?
A lizard left us a treat of its own on the patio furniture. I guess a pile of pillows is a soft place to trade in your summer layer for a new winter coat. I still enjoy watching the lizards nab ants in the yard, so they're welcome to shed their skin and stick around.
Less welcome was the scorpion that crawled under the front door and greeted us coming home the other evening. Not interested in supplying creature comforts to all species, I gave him a fling down the hill. With the weather fluctuating wildly, it seems the insects have been behaving badly.
It's a breezy early evening now. The wildfire is out and in a few hours the marine fog will dissolve the heat of the day. I'll keep the screen door open until bedtime-- cool fresh air for sleeping, dogs barking in the valley, mourning doves pecking a few last seeds before roost.
Looks like back home they'll be spared another night from frost. And we'll all wake tomorrow with another equinox behind us. A small milestone until the next. The days between filled with quiet moments and little surprises.