Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer is hardly felt before autumn cools the air

It's late August, and the sky looks like November — all gray and wet. When was summer? This has been a year when summer did not come to North Carolina, at least not for an extended stay. Spring was cool and wet and lingered well into July. There have been a few hot days, but there has not been an extended period of days with temperatures in the mid- to higher-90s, a pattern that usually comes every summer, often for more than one episode. No complaints this year from farmers about drought; they complain instead that fields are "too wet to plow."

Already, we've had mornings with the temperature in the 60s with low humidity and a deep blue sky, mornings that speak of autumn days and brisk nights. It's only August, and we know summer often lingers into October at these latitudes; still, these mornings give us hope that autumn will come early and stay late, a mild, refreshing tonic to offset the earlier evening darkness and the morning dark.

The first Monday after a week's vacation, Aug. 5, I immediately noticed it was much darker at 6 a.m. when I walked to the end of the driveway to pick up the newspaper. In just one week's time, the angle of sunlight had tilted, delaying dawn for significant minutes. The seasons' shifting is subtle day by day, but when a week's change confronts us, the change seems as swift as the darkness in a room when the lamp is extinguished.

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