Hello Stalkers! This is the thirty-eighth edition of Stalking Mike Blair Outdoors. We are happy to announce that it is officially fall! September 23rd marks the official beginning of our autumn! Who is excited? You’ve probably already started to experience the early signs of fall with cool mornings, deer sightings and leaves changing color.
Different cultures and even different areas consider fall to start at different times, usually coinciding with the weather. However, September 23rd marks the beginning of the astronomical fall in the northern hemisphere. This date is marked as the Autumn Equinox, which is also known as Mabon. Autumn is one of the four temperate seasons and is the transition from summer into winter. On this day, the hours of night and day are equal. On the Autumn Equinox the equator passes the center of the sun. At this point the poles of our Earth are not tilted toward or away but are aligned. This is what causes both hemispheres to experience the same amount of day and night.
After the equinox, night begins to arrive earlier and the temperature cools considerably. Fall is also known as the time when deciduous trees change their color and shed their leaves. There is a common practice, during this time of year, known as leaf peeping. It originated in New England. It is the practice of “peeping” at trees whose leaves have changed to create a splendid view of colors. Trees stop being green when they stop producing chlorophyll (which gives leaves their green color). When the chlorophyll is stopped the other colors that are present in the leaves are revealed before they drop off. Maple leaves blaze a right red. Other beautiful trees to observe are oak, hickory, ash and beech. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular scenic road during fall. It stretches 470 miles from Virginia to North Carolina. This road features trees such as hickory, sassafras, poplar and maple, that put on a bright, colorful show.
This time of year used to be known simply as ‘harvest.’ It was associated with the actual reaping of crops, instead of the time of year. This practice started to fade away as more people left the field and working the land to live in towns when ‘harvest’ wasn’t as a prominent occasion. The full moon nearest the equinox is known as the ‘harvest moon.’ This year was a special occasion, as there was a full moon on the equinox. In addition to this, there was a lunar eclipse. This ‘blood moon’ is a rare event, but to happen on the equinox is even more rare. Blair captured this beautiful photograph of the full, blood moon on the equinox.
Autumn has the ancient Etruscan root autu- which has connotations of the passing year within it. The word Autumn was in common use by 16th century but it did have rare use in the medieval period during the 12th century. The word changed hands and transformed from the Romans, to Latin, to Old French, to Middle English, then back to the normalized original Latin. Equinox is latin for equal night.
So, Stalkers, what is your favorite part of Autumn? Did you go out and view the majestic full moon as it went through the eclipse? Do you go leaf peeping? We will be in autumn until December 21st when we officially transition into winter, but I suspect many of you will be feeling the effects of that season before then!
Be sure to check out the colorful Fall Color Photo Gallery!