Leaves on some of the poplars and cottonwoods around here are beginning to turn.
Day lilies have stopped blooming. Goldenrod is out. New England Asters. Roadsides have been blue and white with chickory and Queen Anne's Lace for a while. Field guides tell me that chickory and Queen Anne's Lace start blooming in June, and even May, but that must depend on where you live. Around here they are late summer flowers. Maybe they're there sooner than I notice, but get lost to view in the competition from showier flowers.
Canada geese are moving around. Small squads noisily going nowhere as younger birds learn how the whole migration thing works. By now their feathers have grown back after their midsummer molt and they're feeling their oats.
After weeks of temperatures in the 80s and 90s, today's predicted high is 76 and tonight we're going down to 50. This pleasantness is supposed to continue through the weekend.
All these are signs to me that summer is over. It's three weeks until school starts and the heat could come back with a vengeance. Some of you are about to take your vacations and the best part of the summer is beginning for you. But after the second week of August I'm done with summer and any activity that was fun and exciting in June and July feels a bit desperate or sad or redundant and a matter of going through the motions. Even the kids seem aware that their vacation is winding down and they have a distracted, less than enthusiastic air as they go about the business of having fun. I'm more irritable and melancholy in August than I am in November or in March after a long winter. Summer's over but fall just won't come.
Most people will say that summer ends the day after Labor Day or on the first day of school. Fall arrives when the maples turn, if they live where there are maples, or when the apples are ready to be picked, if they live where there are apples. But summer ends well before the first orange leaves or bright red apples appear. There are lots of signs.
I've just listed a few of the ones that alert me. What are the signs you watch for? How are things different? How are people different? I'm especially interested in hearing how those of you who live where there are no maples or apples know summer is over and fall has arrived.
What do you see? What's different? What tells you it's time to stop being a grasshopper and go back to being an ant?