Autumn Thoughts

An aerial view of the colorful autumn forest
Fall as it is known in America

Autumn, that season which my American readers will more readily refer to as “Fall”, is obviously one of four seasons in the year and therefore ought to have three months, since obviously twelve divided by four is three. It wouldn’t be fair if one season had more time and the others less.

But when exactly does Autumn begin? In some parts of the Northern hemisphere they say it’s September, October and November, and that’s the most common definition. In the southern hemisphere they say March, April and May, which mirrors that. In North America, however, they started to measure it from the September equinox. There is also a Celtic tradition which calls August to October the Autumn months – so why the discrepancies? Why isn’t there an objective Autumn?

I can’t find any links for this online, but as memory serves, one time a famous scientist was asked by a television interviewer to define the start and close of Autumn, and he said the following “Botanically speaking, autumn starts when the leaves start to fall off the trees, and finishes when they have all fallen off”.

I found this problematic, as there are trees which have some leaves left on all winter. However, this year as I look out of my window I see that all the leaves that are going to fall off trees – at least the ones around here, are already gone. There’s no sign of leaves on any of them, and it’s only the first week of November – the month whose name in Polish means “the falling of the leaves” – ‘listopad’.

The reason is fairly clear though. The last few days have had a warm but strong wind, which I have quite enjoyed walking around in. It was 16 degrees one day but people were in the main wrapped up. I was in just a jacket and shirt and tie and didn’t feel the need for anything more than that, as I generally don’t until it gets below ten degrees centigrade. About a month ago it was quite a bit colder and last year at this time there had already been snow in Warsaw – although not yet in Moscow.

So we have an interesting thing – trees looking like it’s already winter and temperatures better than some that we had in the summer. I wonder what that bodes for the coming winter. A few weeks back I blogged here about the arguments being raised for a really cold winter this year. Could this early leaf-loss be a harbinger of what’s to come?