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Autumn Equinox – Observe the Seasonal Shift

Raised beds and pots at The Observatory

Autumn Equinox comes on the 22nd (6:30am PT/9:30am ET). As I look at the Observatory’s garden log, which now has eight years worth of weather notes, this season is likely to be as unusual in 2020 as was its counterpart.

This year, Spring was longer, with plenty of rain. More like, well, Spring.

Mercifully, the September weather has cooled. Temperatures in central Texas have lowered into the 80s, with a stretch of nights predicted to be in the upper 60s, according to my favorite forecast app. In recent days, we’ve had more rain.

In the potager and herb garden at The Observatory, it is easy to see the difference. September usually brings tawny turf lawn on the southeastern corner. Right now it is weedy and in need of a mow.

In general, rainfall and lower temperatures have made the land, plants, and wildlife (including yours truly) very happy.

Last year–and since 2015, by my garden records–we endured three months of temperatures around 100. I’m not a fan of excessive heat. Fifty years ago, I was in high school in humid Houston. Temperatures often got close to 90F, but I don’t recall weeks of wilting 100s.

tomatoes autumn victory garden permaculture
Tiny pear tomato. Reseeds itself in this general area of garden

In a remarkable and memorable year when mother nature asks, “Can you hear me now?” it feels as though we also get a glimpse of what is possible, if we are observant and considerate. Human activity slowed and it appeared that nature responded immediately, happy to take the time to heal.

Have you seen the satellite images of before and after reduction in human activity? Fewer car trips and fewer airplanes, among other sudden changes to our behavior. Maybe we can negotiate on some middle ground.

This turn of the seasonal wheel to Autumn is a lovely and re-calibration that shifts rhythm in addition to weather. I typically note the arrival of Orion, who ascends for morning coffee by late August. With this shift, we have the noteworthy appearance of some birds that seem to flee the heat, such as Cardinal. Its the first time I’ve seen Tennessee Warbler in the Observatory garden.

Overall, there is a remarkable reduction in frantic noise from the Jays, and in the endless mating of Mourning Doves.

I’ll keep good notes on these signs of Autumn and its results. For example, might there is a chance that even the most unappreciative of us humans may be subliminally enchanted by this atypical rhythm? If so may it distract us long enough to prevent the annual ritual rude awakening of early-onset winter holiday decor.

At the Observatory, we’re big into optimism. And the close of 2020 feels an opportune time for wide-spread, productive re-enchantment.

From the Observatory,