My favorite seasons are spring and fall. I have written before about the first signs of spring. When the pecan and mesquite trees bud you know that winter is over and there will be no more freezes. You can’t rely on fruit trees for this kind of prediction because they are always blooming early and get zapped by a freeze.
Fall is a little tougher to predict in Texas. We have prolonged summers and it sometimes seems like we miss fall. As a porch sitter, there are some subtle changes I use even when the weather seems like summer. The elms in my yard are the first to lose their leaves. The live oaks, of course, never seem to shed; that occurs in March and the new leaves are immediately on the trees. Other oaks shed later in the fall and the post oak will have it’s leaves turn brown but they don’t fall off till the end of winter. Pecans also shed late in the autumn and are mixed with the falling of the pecans. Ash trees shed early. It’s said the chestnut is an early leaf shedder but we don’t have any of those in our part of the world. So, I keep my eye on the elm and ash trees as the trees that shed at the first hint of fall.
Since I’m on the porch, I watch as the shadows of the trees seem to elongate as the sun makes its journey to the southern part of the celestial sphere. Twilight also seems to linger as we approach autumn and noon times are shortened. The days get shorter and I’m driven into the house by the dark at an earlier hour.
Folks in New England have a much prettier show to announce autumn with the changing leaf colors of the maples. In Texas, it just goes from green to dead but I still love to observe the subtle changes mentioned above. These changes are as real to me as to those who watch the maple leaves.
There are other signs that are beyond my description like the way the air feels and smells especially at twilight. We also commonly have a hurricane to hit or at least threaten the Gulf Coast to herald the approach of autumn. You really can’t tell from the behavior of the deer and other wildlife in my yard. All these animals are domesticated and act like pets or more like pest.
Anyway, autumn is right around the corner. A sure sign is to check the paper on Saturday morning and see the results of the high school football games and how much Temple lost.