By Bill Biddle
Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December,
But the days grow short when you reach September.
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame,
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game.
These opening days of September will seem more like a continuation of summer rather than a start of autumn. Only the ever-lengthening night will belie the summer feel of the days for the first week or so of the month. But autumn is here and Weatherwatch has a poem to end the month and this column. The end of September will have weather more like this past mid-August, when snow covered Gardner Mountain and made auto travel at Harts Pass require snow tires. That was a burst of early autumn that was unusual even for the Methow Valley.
Enjoy these waning days of summer. The 100-degree days off and on throughout July and August are a reminder that the valley has a classic continental climate similar to the steppes of central Asia. A hot summer usually means a cold winter and vice versa. In October, Weatherwatch will take a look at the coming winter, and, in November, give a winter forecast. Since there is an El Niño out there in the Pacific Ocean (unusual in that it formed during the summer), the winter forecast for the valley will be a tricky one. Weatherwatch is up to the challenge, however.
Two big natural events will highlight this September. The full moon occurring this first week will literally highlight the gentle cool-down of each night after the summer-like days. Take some time to look at that moon, particularly as it first rises over the hills to the east. Spectacular!
The second event will be on the 22nd. That is the equinox. It will usher in equinoctial storms at various places in the northern hemisphere. The valley will have one of those storms a few days after the 22nd. Be prepared! Wind and rain in the valley, snow in the high country. The late summer weather will be a thing of the past.
The end of the month is very neatly described by Robinson Jeffers in his poem “Autumn Evening,” written during the 1920s. It is from his collection entitled Roan Stallion and I am indebted to Brad Pinkerton for finding it for me.
Though the little clouds ran southward still, the quiet autumnal
Cool of the late September evening
Seemed promising rain, rain, the change of the year, the angel
Of the sad forest. A heron flew over
With that remote ridiculous cry, “Quawk,” the cry
That seems to make silence more silent. A dozen
Flops of the wing, a drooping glide, at the end of the glide
The cry, and a dozen flops of the wing.
I watched him pass on the autumn-colored sky; beyond him
Jupiter shone for evening star.
The sea’s voice worked into my mood, I thought “No matter
What happens to men…the world’s well made though.”
Rain, rain the change of the year…October.
The rest of October? Stay tuned!