Thursday, September 22, 2016

All Things Equal...

Autumn officially begins today (9:21 pm local time) as the equinox means that the sun enters the southern hemisphere and our days will now be shorter than our nights.**  And so we begin our 6 months of darkness.  Our 6 months of cold.  Our 6 months of reflection.

But for this one day, we are balanced, and as we celebrate the balance of light and dark in our world, we can contemplate balance in other ways.  This is a good time to think about our time... do we make enough time for our families?  For our pleasures and for our work?  Can we balance our fun side with our responsible side, our hedonistic side with our industrious side?  Our social side with our reflective side?

And, on a purely physical note, do we do enough yoga (or whatever) that we can stand on one foot without falling over?  That's important too.

**Actually, that's only sort of true... We measure sunrise and sunset times by the time the sun first comes over the horizon (rise) and when the last bit disappears behind the horizon (set).  There will still be longer than 12 hours between those times until Sunday, when we have equilux (equal light).  On the equinox, it's 12 hours between when the sun's midline appears on the horizon and hits that point again at night.

Another interesting thing about the equinox -- they are the only days when the sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west (not southwest or northwest...)

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Little Color

Ok, I'll admit it... I've been strategically ignoring the early adopters -- those few trees that are turning colors earlier than their peers.  But it turns out I can't stop the forward momentum of the seasons by simply ignoring or not writing about it, so it's time to acknowledge... things are starting to turn colors.  Here, a sugar maple starting to become vibrant orange.  The sugar maples (as always) have a great variety in their phenophases -- many are still green as June, while others are further gone than this!
Here, a close-up of chokeberry bushes, which seem to consistently have about 1 in every 20 leaves turning orange... 
Still summer for 3 more days, right?????

Friday, September 16, 2016

Happy Harvest

Tonight is the Harvest Moon -- the full moon closest to the fall equinox next week.  These full moons are often big and orange and lovely as they rise... yesterday's full-minus-one moon was lovely rising large to the east just as the sun set in the west.  Tonight's could be even better... if it's not covered in clouds (as predicted)... we'll see!  This year's Harvest moon also will have a penumbral lunar eclipse, though it won't be visible here at all, or anywhere very much.  It will just appear as a slight faintening of the moon as the moon passes through the very edge of the earth's shadow.  (A full lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the earth's shadow, and they line up perfectly, so the earth itself blocks the sun's rays from reflecting off the moon.)

At any rate... a good night for a moonlit evening stroll!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Teenager Bird

This cute fellow is a baby cedar waxwing -- or a teenager one -- that has fledged the nest, but can't do a whole lot yet.  So we were able to get right up close to him or her... I hope s/he makes it through the next few days OK while s/he learns to be a grown-up bird!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Times, They Are A-Changin'

As we approach the Harvest Moon on Friday and the Equinox on Thursday next, things have been feeling different... while days have been lovely, nights have dropped into the 50's.  It is a noticeably un-summer-like cool when I leave in the morning.  Plus, the shortening days -- which change the drastically around the equinoxes, about 3 light minutes lost per day -- are really noticeable.  It's dark before I'm ready (and we haven't even fallen back)!

Ugh. I see the beauty in all seasons and weather, but I do love summer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

On the Shady Side

These lovely sky blue asters (both their common name and an apt description of their unique color) are starting to bloom profusely in my yard's shade garden.  

Another shade-dweller -- mistflower -- is coming into full bloom now as well!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dominant

Brown-eyed Susans are one of the most common flowers right now -- mighty in both numbers of plants and numbers of blooms per plant.  There are actually several species which we sort of interchangeably call black- or brown-eyed Susans.  This one is the Rudbeckia triloba, but R. hirta is actually the most common, and my yard is dominated right now by R. submentosa, commonly called sweet black-eyed Susan.