A few years back we had a frost hard enough to kill the squash on August 31st. Never mind that the rest of September was warm and sunny, with hardly a night below 50, summer was over. Unlike the last frost of spring, which exists first as a possibility, then as a probability, and only as a certainty weeks after the fact, the first frost of autumn marks the turning of the seasons with perfect clarity.
At least, that’s usually how it goes, but this year has been different. I can’t honestly say we’ve had no frosts. The picture above was taken at the top of the hill a couple weeks back, and there’s nothing else to call it. But the affected area was about ten square feet and apparently arbitrary, for a few steps away, at the same elevation, there was no frost to be seen. A couple days later Alanna had to scrape the car windshield before taking the kids to school. But I have yet to wake up to find the lawn and the field across the street and the hills in the distance all glittering in the morning light, and there’s nothing in the forecast to make me think I will anytime soon.
In last week’s newsletter I mentioned that it has been a disappointing year for fall colors. Part of this is that most of the trees are drabber than usual, but it is also because each one seems to be changing on its own schedule, so some are completely leafless while others remain mostly green. I suspect a good frost would have done a lot to synchronize them.
There’s an obvious tension between wanting the warm weather to last, particularly in an area with long winters, and desiring confirmation that the world is a reasonably stable place. The frisson of excitement children experience staying up later than they’re supposed to is in part predicated on certainty that eventually a parent will come put them to bed; it’s fun to stretch the rules a bit, for September to feel more like summer than winter, but at some point the seasons need to get on with it.
Which I’m sure they will, soon enough. Though I readily admit it’s based on nothing more than feelings and a vague idea of averages, I suspect the upcoming winter will be colder and snowier than the last several have been. No doubt I’ll enjoy it for a few months, then start wondering when spring will ever arrive.