Saturday, 5 September 2009

When does summer become autumn?

Astronomically, on or around 22/23 September - autumn equinox (this year: 22 September, at 23:18 Warsaw time). This is when the sun crosses the equator, and in the Northern Hemisphere the day begins to become shorter than the night. But that's not the answer that most people would feel. There might still be summery days ahead, but summer's over. Above: Cabbage field, ul. Dawidowska. Below: ul. Nawłocka looking west. Foliage still late-summery.

Though the astronomers set the dates for the changing of the seasons to those of the equinoxes and solstices, to the mind of the lay person, summer ends with the return to school. In Britain, there's the Summer Bank Holiday - the last Monday of August, a day off work - after which it's flat out to Christmas. In the USA, there's Labor Day (first Monday of September).

Britain tends to go for calendar seasons rather than astronomical seasons, the norm in Poland. So in the UK, autumn runs from 1 September to 30 November, winter from 1 December to 28/29 February, spring from 1 March to 31 May, and summer from 1 June to 31 August. In Poland, seasons run from solstice to equinox, equinox to solstice and back again. This is because with the continental climate, it takes longer for the processes of warming and cooling to begin than in Britain's Atlantic climate.

For me, whether in London or Warsaw, summer ends when I can no longer go out in but one layer of clothing. Any sunny morning in August when I'd choose to cycle to work, I'd not need to put anything over my shirt. Last week (September 1 and 2) I still managed to get away with it. So - still summer. This morning though, gloomy, the wind bringing in dark clouds and dampness from the west. Below: ul. Achilesa, looking east.

The passing of summer and onset of autumn is like living with chronic disease, or just aging. Some days are better, others are worse.

Looking at my blog posts for Septembers past, I can see summer sliding into autumn in different ways; last year there was a two-week period from 11 to 24 September of cold, gloomy and damp weather, after which some welcome autumnal sun reappeared.

Today has been dull but with some sunny outbreaks and on the whole not too cold. Above: View from our front porch. Note new house to the left, about to get a roof.

Time to start adjusting the mindset; putting on that extra layer when going out in the morning and getting used to the evenings getting shorter and shorter until that ghastly Sunday in late-October when we lose a whole hour in one go. In just 15 weeks time it will be dark at three-thirty.

This time last year:
Lots of small planes, up close

This time two years ago:
Burnt by the Sun

1 comment:

Island1 said...

Thanks for the link in your new improved blogroll!