First day of fall, depending on your point of reference.
Civilized people, which is to say, baseball fans, will tell you that fall arrives the day after the regular season ends.
Roadside botanists mark the beginning of fall from when the goldenrod and asters replace the day lillies.
For kids and their parents, fall starts on the first day of school.
For the owners of businesses in resort towns, fall begins when all their help quits to go back to college, which, with luck, is the day after Labor Day. (Summer starts Memorial Day weekend, of course.)
People who know how to bake a pie and the people who love them know that fall begins when apple picking begins...
...and ends when the apple trees are picked bare, well over a month before the Winter Solstice.
That doesn't mean winter begins. Here in the Northeast we have another season, a no longer fall, not yet winter season of gloom and inwardness, November.
Up in Hudson Bay it's been fall for a while, if it's not winter already, and down in Texas they're still wearing shorts, and out in Southern California they're asking, "What's a fall?"
Up this-a-way, between the Poconos and Mt Marcy, and out that-a-way, west to the first prairie dog, the area of the country I know best, autumn gets going in fits and starts, and people sort of ignore it until all at once they can't. There are flares of red in a few maples, the sumacs turn scarlet, farmers start mowing down the corn shocks and what's left standing has begun to brown. The geese are more active and noisy overhead, you start reaching for a sweater in the evening, and one night you notice it's pitch dark at a time when it seems that just the other day there was still bright sunshine. The whole James Witcomb Riley "frost is on the punkin" autumnal revue.
Myself, I know it's fall when the first pumpkins appear for sale at the roadside farm stands, which this year, occured THREE WEEKS AGO!
How did that happen?
Nance, who knows more about these things and keeps better track, says that the whole harvest is early this year because of how cool the summer was. She's concerned that she won't get out to the orchards before the Cortlands are picked over.
I'm worried that by the time we're ready to carve our Jack O Lanterns all the pumpkins will have rotted and turned to mush.
A Halloween without Jack O Lanterns?