“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” — Lauren DeStefano
“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” — Chad Sugg
We have now entered the autumnal equinox. Summer 2016 is withering just as the fruit on the vine and the pumpkins in the patch ripen. But despair not, this is the season of harvest, celebration of the summer’s efforts and the change that will ultimately bring another year, another spring and summer, notwithstanding the American election.
So, let’s investigate the history and meaning of the words that form this transitional period from summer into winter, with yet another round of commercials about snow tires and Sydney Crosby showing up at the back yard rink with double-doubles, and we don’t mean scotch (although a little anti-freeze might be a good idea as well).
September: the transition month, actually comes from the number seven (septem in latin). So how come it’s the ninth month? That’s a result of the ego of Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar who wasn’t satisfied with the calendar as it was and decided to add two more months to the year: Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Junius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December. So far so good. But in 45 BC Big Julie added January and February (was he responsible for the crazy spelling as well?) and threw everything out of whack. He renamed Quintilis and Sextilis for himself and Augustus Caesar, and thus July and August came into being. Some conspiracy theorists suggest Caesar was stabbed in the rotunda before he could deal with September and so it stands today (I just made that up). If September stayed in it’s original position, Labour Day would be in the wrong place. Besides, the old English speakers, old as in the language ‘Old English’ not age, had already replaced September with Hāligmōnað and Hærfestmōnað, which means “harvest month” in Modern English.
Harvest: It is after all, the reason for the season. Harvest, or Herbst in German, was the name for the season until autumn began to displace it in the 16th Century. Depending where you were however, harvest was a factor of agriculture and meteorology (yes, hard as it is to believe, there was meteorology before Mark Madryga). In Britain, it was August through October. In America it was September through November.
But no matter how you slice it we’re into Fall (named because the leaves make a mess of my coiffed lawn). Was a time I didn’t mind though because I would rake them into a pile at the curb and burn them creating that wonderful perfume of fall, before we were barred from such incendiary activities.
Autumn, Fall, September, or whatever you call it, happened (today) September 22 at 7:21 in the morning in Vancouver. That’s when the sun, as the world turns, crossed the Tropic of Cancer, the demarcation line of the Northern Hemisphere, heading south at increasing speed until it collides with the winter solstice.
Benefits: The leaves turn all sorts of gorgeous colours, before they litter my lawn, the Harvest moon, by the light of which farmers harvested their crops, appears in great splendor, the northern lights, the aurora borealis, become more active. It’s not because there’s more night within which to watch them. According to NASA the geomagnetic storms on the sun are about twice as frequent in the fall as the annual average.
So there you have it. Enjoy those splendid remaining days of sunshine and northern lights before the rain comes and we have to go Christmas shopping. It’s the best show in Gaia’s theatre right now, and every year I swear I won’t wax poetic as summer fades away. Ah but I’m afraid I just cannot ignore the romance of the season. I fall for it every year.