In the American South, sometimes it is hard to discern the seasons. The calendar can be a loose guide, but it is seldom ever right on time with the weather. There is a meteorological way of naming the seasons but even that has proved unreliable this year.
September is supposed to be a month of low-pressure cells, cool fronts, sporadic rain and yellow leaves. It is the meteorological beginning of autumn.
This year, however, has been the year of exception in Texas. July and August are typically dry but it rained all summer. Hurricane Harvey flooded half the state. September has been completely dry and exceptionally hot. I’m confused.
I don’t know if I still need to buy BT dunks for the pond and bird bath to kill mosquito larvae. I’m not sure if the hummingbirds need nectar. It’s almost October but I’m still carrying a summer purse.
The first day of autumn has come and gone but I keep looking for clues. Wal-Mart has Halloween costumes but they put those out on Labor Day. The morning glories have started blooming again but the roses still look dormant. The neighbor’s cottonwood is losing leaves but our cypress is not. The state fair starts this week and our lawn needs water. The Japanese maple is not even tinged with red.
When I know that it is fall, I will want to work in the flower beds, clean my oven and buy canned pumpkin. Until I’m sure, I’m not putting my swimsuit away or trading out sleeveless shirts for sweaters in the closet. I’m keeping my flip-flops handy. The gold and orange door wreath remains in the attic.
I had a significant clue this week. When I stuck my nose out the door one morning to test the humidity, I heard a newly formed murder of crows talking about winter accommodations. Crows are to autumn what the robin is to spring.
Texas Crows don’t move south for the winter but they do change their roosting habits. After a summer of pairing up and fighting for territory, a large group will get together in one area that provides food, water and shelter. They share during hard times.
They can be seen in large congregations in trees barren of leaves. They sound like a noisy crowd gathered for a spectacle. When I see crows gathering and hear them talking, I know that autumn has arrived, even if it is close to 100 degrees F. today.