- For a few thousands of years, astronomers have scanned the skies. Ancient civilizations paid them well as the pundits of their day _ predicting what would happen based on the positions of moon and stars, and the portents signified by novas and comets. They were probably as accurate as any of our talking heads today.
- Scanning the skies is more difficult in summer in the Northern Hemisphere, where most of those astronomers were located. They were no doubt happy as the nighttime reclaimed hours of the day, giving them more time to do their work. More modern practitioners like Copernicus and Galileo probably rejoiced as equinox approached, even though it meant their fingers would be numbed in the crystal clear cold
- This time of year is when I most appreciate sunset. In the summer the days are long and warm, but at my age they are perhaps a little too long. When the sun finally goes down, I am often fully into my evening routine, usually indoors. And if I do try to watch a sunset at the park or harbor, I must contend with swarms of gnats and mosquitoes who think I have arrived to provide dinner.
- Spring equinox remains too chill to linger. But autumn nights are perfect. Bugs are vanished. Air remains balmy. The sun remains magnificent, and there are often clouds to accent amazingly beautiful hues. Each evening strikes me fully because I am still active, and I can pay attention to the daily drama.
- Shine on, shine on harvest moon ….
- We each pretend it shines especially for us
- September has crept up subtly. Last year, lack of rain had a lot of trees with shriveled leaves, weeds dried to brown, and flowers vanished. But most of this foliage is still verdant and ground cover mid-summer thick.
- There are still enough triggers around to start autumn transformations. Cooler air, of course, is one factor, but the shorter days are the real clock for bird migrations and leaf shutdown. I imagine the cosmic conductor crying out “all aboard” as the seasonal train pulls out of the station.
- Among the many indicators are the ripening of fruits and seeds, now almost complete. A few flowers may continue just in case winter never arrives this year, but for the most part generational preparations are complete. Birds are feasting, squirrels are burying, and invisible preparations are underway all around.
- Strangely, fire which has been our constant companion since before humans migrated out of Africa _ perhaps before there were modern humans _ is largely absent in the modern world. In the summer there may be a bonfire or two, tiny flames at a weekend barbecue, but no candles late at night.
- For our ancestors, having fuel for fire ready for the coming seasons was indispensable. Otherwise bedtimes were earlier with each passing day, dawn awakenings later. In a few months, unchecked cold could kill. Keeping a fire handy and having the means to restart one if extinguished was a matter of life and death.
- Today we rarely notice it. Even now, as days shorten rapidly, we flick a switch as always and possibly turn up the heat for a moment. Fire? What’s that, our children ask. Fire is only associated with disasters like houses burning down. Civilization hides its presence away along with our other detritus.
tember has lingered warmly, in some ways even nicer than August had been, keeping much in full bloom.
“Sometimes,” her companion glances around to be sure nobody is listening, “sometimes I think it would all happen anyway even without our heroics.”
And molded it to our deeper needs