The Autumnal Equinox—that time when the amount of daylight and dark is equal and signals the first day of fall—is tomorrow, Sept. 22. And according to the signs of nature in the wilderness, everything is on track.
The dogwood leaves are turning tinges of red, orange and yellow and this spring’s white blooms have developed into bright red berries. The tree is unique in that it also sets buds for next spring’s blooms while producing seeds for this year’s future crops.
And on the subject of crops, I am disappointed to report that as big a boom as the blackberry crop was this summer, the paw-paw production was a bust. Emma the Great Pyrenees and I went on a walk-a-bout to the paw-paw patch and found not a single Hoosier banana.
The bronze bell shaped blooms occur very early in the spring before bees and most other pollinators are out and about. I saw a few blooms this spring but perhaps the heavy and frequent rains had something to do with the lack of pollination. Perhaps the lack of crop is due to that or the neighborhood raccoons and possums beat us to the crop.
While paw-paws may be in short supply, stick-tights, burrs and other clothing and fur catching seeds are again abundant and hitching a ride. Emma hasn’t quite learned the patience of sitting still and allowing the burrs to be removed from her furs.
On our walk, the golden rod is in bloom and folklore indicates that the first frost will be within six weeks.
In our youth we were told that it was Jack Frost and ice crystal forming temperatures caused the fall color. Nope, it’s the changing light. While we humans haven’t noticed too much of a change, the tree leaves have noticed the diminished light of day and are shutting down green chlorophyll production showing the leaves true colors.
And the Hoosier Hills will be colorful in a few weeks. Then the leaves fall and the compost making begins.
And the equinox is my sign to get out the big box bug repellant and spray around the doors and windows. Cooling temperatures mean the masses of ladybugs will be fall rendezvousing to seek shelter for the winter. There’s plenty shelter under tree bark. We don’t like sharing domicile relations with flying ladybugs. Of course, Willow the cat thinks they are grand fun.
With the official start of fall, it means I will need to make my annual pilgrimage to the hickory nut honey hole where I expect the crop report to be better than the paw-paw.
Perhaps more on that subject later.