Sunday, August 14, 2011


If I had to choose a season in which to watch for harbingers, I'd pick spring over fall any time. Maybe because of where I come from, I'm enthusiastic...Melissa has actually used the word rapturous.....about watching for harbingers of spring. Perhaps for the same reason, I'm pretty sanguine about watching for harbingers of fall and winter.

Although our weather will mostly be stuck on summer, at least in terms of temperature, for at least another six weeks, it's pretty hard to fool the trees that are day-length sensistive as opposed to temperature sensitive. In the last couple of weeks the woods has begun to change colour; from the deep green of mid-summer to the yellow-y green of early fall. I noticed the other day that our harbinger species; hickories, walnuts and butternuts, are beginning to change colour and experience some de-leafing. A lot of these trees will stand completely bare well before we've experienced any cool weather, and indeed well before the same trees would be bare in the front yard of my former home nine hundred miles to the north.

This part of Tennessee operates on Central time; we're about a hundred miles west of the Eastern/Central time change line. Because of this, even in midsummer our evenings are shorter than would be common in areas located closer to the middle (or on the western side) of a time zone. Of course the compensation for this is that it's light relatively early in the morning in all seasons. Mid August is when shorter evenings and darker mornings become really noticeable; another harbinger of things to come. It's dark in the mornings these days until nearly six and it will be full dark tonight well before eight o'clock.

I've noticed too that the warm season grasses have begun to set seed in earnest, especially the bermudagrass on the yard. It seems like seed heads pop up on the lawn within a day of rolling the lawnmower over the grass. Even with adequate moisture, some of the warm season grasses will begin to go dormant in the next few weeks.

At least we don't have to fret about the F word for a long while down here. Believe me when I say I've used the F word in response to the F word multiple times when my grain corn was still a fair ways from black layer and a cold night on a late August or early September full moon was predicted. In especially unlucky years...perhaps once every twenty or thirty years, the entirety of Central Ontario except the immediate Lake Ontario shoreline WILL get to worry about and deal with an August frost. The coldest spots; Joe S and Billy E's farms at Indian River leap immediately to mind, get to deal with August frost's on a semi-regular basis. The F word is a harbinger of fall that I can do without, at least till it arrives here in the mid-South some chilly morning late in October or early November !

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