Sunday, August 19, 2012

Signs of Fall

Here in Alaska, we pay a lot of attention to the seasonal transitions. I think this is probably the case in any part of the world where there is a huge difference in the seasons.

The start of fall is technically defined in the U.S. as the autumn equinox, or around the 20th of September. (This differs from Australia, where the seasons change on the first of the month). However, in Alaska, climate-wise, fall really starts about the first of September. The last half of August is filled with signs that fall is not too far around the corner, although this year it seems like it might be a little early.

One of the signs I notice every year is the fireweed.
Fireweed blooms nearing the top of the stalk
Fireweed (named that because it's the first plant to return after a fire, not because of its brilliant color) blooms progressively up the stalk. Folk wisdom has it that when the fireweed bloom reaches the top of the stalk, winter is 6 weeks away.

This year, I've also noticed the geese flocking. When they start gathering in large groups and hanging out in town, they're thinking about heading down south. It will probably be a few weeks before they go, but it's still a signal that summer is ending.

Canadian geese on the way back home
This week, school starts back up, and the State Fair starts as well, another two events that herald the end of summer. But the real sign that summer is over is the first snowfall on the mountains, or "Termination Dust". Fortunately, that hasn't hit just yet, although we had some snows on the very peaks this summer that people termed "Termination Dust".

I don't know if I'm ready for summer to be over, but I do love fall. It's beautiful in Alaska, and I haven't had a real fall in two years. So I guess I'll just try to enjoy what's left of summer, and make that transition when I see the Termination Dust.


craftosaurus said...

I just realized the other day that the first few red leaves are starting to appear on the trees in Maine. Come on, sweater weather!

L said...

I'd love to see Maine in the fall! Maybe one of these days...