Autumn, September 2012

The month of September brings the beginning of a new school year, but also the continuation of our seasonal year. When we go back to school it is still summer, fall doesn’t begin until September 22nd, but already you can see signs from nature that the seasons are moving ahead.

The beginning of autumn begins is determined by the sun, when night and day are nearly of the same length and the sun crosses the celestial equator moving southward into the southern hemisphere.

 Some people call autumn, "fall," which refers to the leaves falling off the trees during this season. The falling of the leaves begins when the leaves change colors and go from being green, to burning red, golden yellow and vivid orange. This is a wonderful time to be outdoors in   nature time to go hiking, camping and enjoying being outside with nature since the temperatures are mild, as the heat of summer has past and the chill of winter has yet to come.

The history of autumn began with the time of harvest for people who worked and depended on farming to survive. Autumn was even called "harvest" in the 1500s because this was when fruits and vegetables were ready to be picked and stored for the winter. People had to store foods so they would not starve when the winter came, as the cold weather would kill all the plant life. So, the season of autumn was an extremely important time of year. As society developed and people moved off the farms and into cities to work in factories, the term "harvest" was replaced with autumn, or fall.

In nature we can observe this harvest as well. The flowers of the early summer have given away to fruits, seeds, and nuts, which will germinate and reproduce the plants the following spring. Animals around are busy storing this bounty as well.  Squirrels and other small rodents are busy gathering seeds and nuts that will keep them through the long cold winter months. The black bear will cover many miles in a day, eating huge amounts of nuts and berries which will be stored as fat for its long winter sleep. Many birds, as the chill comes to the air, realize that its time to feed well before they move to more southern climates which are not so hard on these delicate creatures.

As autumn comes in recent years many people are noticing that it is staying warmer longer, and the day of the first killing frost is put off many weeks from when old timers remember it used to occur.  This warming effect is now seen throughout the world and has been given the name global warming. Global Warming can cause widespread climate change.

One lesson in nature that everyone comes to learn is that “everything has a profound effect on everything else.  When temperatures begin to warm in the fall, this has a cascading effect on living plants and animals whose annual cycles are determined by the sun and the cooler temperatures.

Although no one alone can stop this trend all by them self, we can all learn to do things to slow this change. Using less energy is the way we can all contribute to slow this warming trend of our planet. In the next few days become aware of how you could use less energy, whether its turning off lights, or car pooling.  Although these actions might seem to have a very small effect on a very big problem, if everyone in the U.S. could reduce their energy usage by 5%, that would make a huge difference across our country.

So this fall get outside with your family. Enjoy the colors, smells and sounds of the end of the summer and the fall season, and  remember to try to use as little energy as possible. This will help to keep our seasons where they are supposed to be.