(This is a somewhat modified version of a post originally from 2013)
Regular Zoners will recall that we have been celebrating the arrival of each new season. We last partied for the summer solstice (“The Four Seasons, Part 2: Summer Hot, Summer Hotter,” June 21, 2013). So once again we drag out the Joe Zone nuclear-powered microscope, and examine the season of autumn, which fell with a thud on the northern hemisphere September 23 at 4:22 AM EDT. Did you hear it?
Ah, autumn! What is so fair as a midsummer night’s dream of autumn, when frost has dusted the pumpkin patch and blanketed the grass, which still needs to be mowed because it won’t stop growing in this cursed damp, dreary, chilly season that reminds us that aging and death – well, maybe I’m getting carried away. Autumn, actually, is often the fairest of times, with mild weather and pleasant temperatures. Of course, occasionally Mother Nature will throw the odd hurricane or blizzard at us, but on the whole this season is usually a mellow time. This year, it’s very dry, so maybe we’ll make up for it by being buried in winter snow.
Autumn is sometimes referred to as “fall.” This is because come September and October, so many things are falling – leaves, temperatures, raindrops, hems, footballs, meteors, the stock market. Even gasoline prices are falling, primarily to confuse us. Also falling is the number of daylight hours, which of course means that the number of nightlight hours is increasing.
There is a scientific explanation for this, and it has to do with the autumnal equinox. To understand this, we can look at the derivation of the word “equinox,” which is of Latin origin. “Equus” is Latin for a horse, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course, unless that horse… Well, we’ll come back to that later. “Nox” is Latin for sickly or deadly, as in noxious fumes or nauseous tummies. So we see that equinox refers to a deadly horse or the nauseous feeling we get while riding one. And of course that usually happens in the fall, so there you have it. Unless it happens in the spring, in which case it’s the vernal equinox, and we have that green or vernal look about the gills. Unless you march to that different drummer and live in the southern hemisphere, in which case it’s reversed, unless you’re left-handed. And I think I’ve exceeded the allowable quota of “unlesses.” Unless I have special dispensation because – well, never mind.
Autumn is considered by many to be a particularly beautiful season, with leaves of brilliant hues, bright orange pumpkins, and new TV shows. The new TV season serves the purpose of making everything else seem better by comparison. We realize how rich our lives have been without these shows. We hope never to be subjected to these shows again. And we try not to think about the people who are responsible for these shows making more money per week than we make per decade.
Autumn does have at least one downside: no matter how much we’re enjoying a beautiful autumn day, it can be difficult to shake the nagging feeling that something is silently tracking us. We can feel the hot breath on our necks, as our pursuer comes ever closer, ready to pounce when we least expect it. Yes, autumn means we are inevitably being stalked by winter.
So, in honor of autumn, and hoping she’ll stay a bit longer and hold winter at bay, here’s a ditty that’s cool and gritty:
The leaves are turning, it’s time for fall.
Trade your tankini for a coat and shawl.
The loss of warmth makes me want to grieve,
The impending cold makes me want to heave.
The beauty of vibrant leaves on the trees,
But why do I have to rake all of these?
Temps going down – crisp, cool autumn!
Alas, they haven’t hit the bottom.
Soft, gentle rains, aren’t they nice?
At least it isn’t snow and ice.