When we lived in Washington and Idaho, there was always that day when the season changed, when we could say, “This is the first day of fall” or spring. It didn’t have much to do with the calendar.
Sometime, usually in September, we would wake to a crisp coolness quite unlike that of a cool night after a hot day. Maybe the temperature hadn’t dropped enough for frost, but the air was different. Frost was at least on the way. We could still have hot days, but they wouldn’t last; they wouldn’t drain us like summer heat. The back of summer was broken.
Sometime, most years between Theresa’s and Maria’s birthdays in March, we would wake up to the first day of spring. Snow, if still around, would be melting, or if there was no snow, a feather-soft wisp of spring air scented with wet-earth-waiting-for-seeding, told us spring had crept in over night.
Here in the desert the seasons don’t signal their change clearly. They fight with each other for two or three months. One day the wind is bitter and we tell Sister Maria that we don’t enjoy the northerlies she sends us from Canada (as if she had anything to do with it). The next, hot winds blow in from Nevada. We see-saw back and forth for weeks until either winter or summer wins.
This fall, the calendar fall, has been remarkably stable; light frosts with the common 40-degree nocturnal temperature drop, clouds rolling up Cajon Pass and dispersing over the desert with slim chance of showers, shirt-sleeve weather mid day—until today. Yesterday the temperature dropped enough so we turned on the furnace. This morning we found raindrops on the north and west windows, drove to town with wipers on and without sunglasses. The troops are gathering for the autumn weather battle.