During the years when I was growing up on the Southern California coast, I was, like other California natives, tuned in to the subtleties of seasonal change; there were few autumn leaves, no snow storms, and no flowering fruit trees. The light informed us that Autumn was coming. The slight drop of the sun on the horizon was as intense a harbinger of seasonal change as an overnight frost. Even as we were still swimming in the Bay, and the sun was setting at 8:30, we sensed a profound shift from the bright summer.
Mid-west or east coast migrators were only aware that the days were mostly bright and there wasn't any snow: that was their California joy and relief. The ability to wear shorts all year was a constant source of awe. Endless summer.
In Spring the winds shifted on shore, the air became softer, there was often overcast for most of the day until late in the afternoon and the sun, at the same angle it had been when Fall began to arrive, burned through the mist, washing everything golden until it fell behind San Pedro hill.
Here in New England I enjoy that subtle shift only at the end of the summer. Some folks will wonder what's changed. The days are warm and dry or humid: just like June and July, but I know it's that subtle drop of the sun on the horizon that changes the light just enough to add shimmer to the whole length of a tree at mid day and shorten it's shadow across the lawn.
On an eighty degree afternoon in early September, I sit in the back yard facing the setting sun that's veiled behind our ash trees and the neighbor's weeping willow. The air is dry and the bit of light that gets through to the garden turns the dahlia stalks a lovely copper green.
I was going to write a little something about the longevity of flowers and customer expectations but I'll save that for another post. I keep thinking about swimming in that Bay.