I woke this morning to a smell that made me smile and dig down under the down comforter for another minute...the heat came on in the night. The smell? It is the first time warm air pushes through the vents; hot dust. With the thermostat set to "automatic", this means it had to get pretty dang chilly for the house to cool down enough to under 63. Yippee. It's fall.
Through the years, we have had many discussions about when you can say it is the next season. We live in a part of the world where there are four definite seasons, and they never, according to good sense and observation, (or me), begin on the calendar date set for them.
Some of the children (and husband) like to believe in the calendar date theory...as in, even if it is 102 degrees in the shade on June 2nd, it is NOT summer. Since daily walks have always been a part of our rhythm, I taught them to look, to listen, to feel the temperature on their skin. Seeing the first returning robin in February was a sign that spring was coming. Not needing a winter coat even in the house is spring in Iowa. (We call them sleepers or big, fat bathrobes inside, same thing.)
Jumping over the Beltane fires, celebrating our Gaelic ancestry and the return of life, is spring:
Being able to plant outside without fear of frost means it's getting very close to summer. June 21st means summer solstice, the position of the sun and the length of the days. Summer is hot, too hot for jeans and long-sleeves. If it's hot, it's summer. If you can go to the beach and still be hot, it's summer:
And as for autumn, the one that sneaks up on you in some ways, but in others is not so subtle...autumn starts with more leaves than just the August ones falling, a nip in the wind, candles at dinner, and then, bahm! you are freezing your tushy off when you walk outside in the morning and back to t-shirts in the afternoon. The wicked, bad ragweed along the bike path has wilted over-night. Then one day, long sleeves in the afternoon too, the kids put on fleeces of their own accord, and the heat comes on. That's early fall, when the sun can shine brilliantly, but a hat feels nice:
Late fall, we all know; pumpkins and hay rides and winter coats. It's early fall that is the elusive (it can and will warm up, then cool back down again) and lovely seasonal miracle. Autumn is the season that makes me glad to live in the Midwest again.