Although we have not yet reached the autumnal equinox, my mind has already down-shifted into fall. Lately, the days have been clear and crisp; the nights cool, but not enough to dampen those nocturnal insect serenades. Sounds of crickets still pulsate through the screened windows of our house at eventide, albeit without the intensity of their warm summer night cacophonies.
The hummingbirds have departed. I have not seen them at the front porch feeder since Labor Day. These days only sparrows, titmice and chickadees frequent the firebushes. While immersed in painting the balustrade this afternoon, I chanced to look up and glimpse a high-flying hawk soaring across the blue sky in a southern direction.
The leaves from the poplar trees on Winthrop Street lie brown and fallen, wafting rusty hints of autumn when crushed underfoot.
After my evening shower I donned my day clothes and stepped out for a walk. Many of the neighborhood houses lay in darkness. Tops of tall pines stood silhouetted against the last light of evening.
As I approached our house, I caught a brief chill in the night air.
Summer is behind us, and autumn is not quite here; the day’s work now done, but not yet time to retire.
I glance at the calendar on the closet door. September — this month that houses the equinox — carries a reprint of Van Gogh’s “Pont de Langlois.” Washerwomen work at riverside below the stone abutments as a covered horsecart crosses the drawbridge. At some point the weights will shift, the ropes will groan and the central span will separate as it rises beneath the overarching blue sky.
The equinox is not a moment in time, but rather a process. We humans carve up the year into seasons, as though our calendars could pinpoint these transitions in time.
Ultimately, such events remain elusive, although we persist in attempting to convince ourselves otherwise.