Summer is NOT Over, Yet. Agreed?

They say that the Autumnal Equinox falls on September 23rd this year — according to my calculations that’s five full days away yet everywhere I go people are talking about Fall like it’s here already. It’s like as soon as Labour Day is past we head straight into Autumn without looking ahead or looking back.

Of course nature doesn’t exactly help. The other day, while out riding my bike I came upon a fallen leaf on the sidewalk, nearly falling off from the sheer shock of it. From out of my front window I can see a tree changing which I have to admit is almost pleasant given that here in Toronto trees tend to skip the Fall display and go straight to dropping their dead brown leaves overnight. If I were to get up from my desk, walk over to the window and look out I could see that tree right now. But I won’t do that. I’ll just stay right here and pretend it doesn’t exist thank you very much. And then later I will walk outside the back and pick one of the few remaining tomatoes from the vine and live my happy summer fantasy a little bit longer — five days longer to be exact. I refuse to acknowledge Fall until I absolutely have to. I will not be changing the banner at the top of this website or using the word “Fall” in a sentence to describe current conditions until the absolute last possible second, exactly 04:51 am EST on September 23, 2007. Until then it is late summer damn it. LATE SUMMER!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall. It’s a wonderful season. I love the beautiful colours, the cool, crisp air, the smell of wood-burning stoves and autumn leaves, the harvest foods, and I will even admit that I am just vain enough to say that I love fall fashions. As much as I love the summer, there always comes a certain point when it is so unbearably hot and humid that I can do nothing but throw up my arms and surrender to the dirt, sweat, stink, and humidity-induced hair flippage. I don’t think I need to get into my problems with winter except to say that all that layering to keep warm amounts to a personal lack of style that looks and feels like the Michelin Man. Fall fashions, on the other hand, suit me as I’d imagine they suit a lot of people what with the earthy colours, light layers, and stylishly light jackets.

But Fall doesn’t last long enough. It comes and goes in a heartbeat and before I’ve had a chance to really soak it all in winter arrives with the dirty snow, slush, bitter cold and more importantly the end to the gardening season. And while there is a very specific moment right around last week when I am burnt out from the demands of summer and just a little bit tired of thinking about gardening, talking about gardening, and writing about gardening, I also miss it. Those months through the winter without the green, the good smells of living things and living earth, the dirt underneath my nails, the trips to my community garden, the indulgence of an entire fresh tomato or cucumber straight off the vine, the little discoveries, and the buzzing sounds of life…. those are long months of deprivation ahead. And while I know that they are an integral part of the cycle of life here (as much as I dislike winter it’s scarier with climate change watching it come later and for less time than is healthy), and that without those long grey days I might not feel so intensely about the months of lushness and colour, I can’t help but feel a little bit of anxiety right around this time every year that somehow I just won’t be able to make it through these months without it. And even though there are things about the winter that I enjoy too, I have to admit that I’m a winter wimp and could happily do without it.

So I’m gonna hold onto these last five days of summer and then when I have to, when it is all official and stuff, I will give over to this next season and take it as it comes.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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13 thoughts on “Summer is NOT Over, Yet. Agreed?

  1. Move south … it’s just not getting comfortable enough to get back in the garden and start planting again. The high today is 87. Our fall won’t start until mid October (no matter what the calendar says) at the least and we won’t freeze (if we do at all) until early January. By March we’re planting again. It’s lovely, but you have to deal w/hurricanes here in the gulf coast(ugh).

  2. JenB: Is that typical for your region? Seems not right.

    Jenn: I’m in Canada so really the warmest we can go is Vancouver… clear across the country. The hurricanes are scary.

  3. Stay in denial as long as you can – it is too late for some of us.

    In Edmonton we’ve had one hard frost and the trees are well into turning colour. The cursed green ash on the boulevard across the street from my home has dropped almost all its leaves, although it is not the norm. Last to leaf out, first to drop, that one. I like the elms better – they have more staying power.

    I’m still babying the tomatoes, covering them at night if frost is predicted, trying to ripen as many in the garden as possible, as bringing in green ones leads inevitably to fruit flies and mould.

  4. Gayla, I’ve already had to bring in my tropicals and tender perennials since we’ve had several nights in the past week that dropped into the 40′s.
    I just hope the frost holds off so I can harvest a decent sized gourd or 2 off the roof.
    Autumn never lingers here, either. One day, it’s sunny and 89, 4 days later you wake to sleet and rain…

  5. It sounds as though you all feel the same way about Fall like I do about Spring.
    I live in Texas, and Spring here is stunning: the wildflowers turn the ground into a giant patchwork quilt of color (no green, just blue, red, and yellow fields.) The only thing I’ve ever seen to compare it with was one Fall when I went to Ohio.
    It’s beautiful, but after a few weeks it ends and then…

    Summer in Texas is not pretty. Small children can’t go outside and play. Old people can’t go out either, and charities donate AC to the poor so they won’t die–I’m absolutely not kidding here! Gardening is out of the question, and the only veggie you can grow in summer is okra–and it goes bad on the bush while you watch thru the window because you can’t bear to go out in the garden (no one loves okra enough to harvest it when it’s 105F).

    Spring is the end of my gardening season, just like Fall is for yours.
    I wonder if my Spring and your Fall are so beautiful because it’s the end?

  6. Gayla, it is earlier and it has put me in a funk. I know I have lived her 37 years, but every year the thought of winter devastates me. Frost again last night. Everything look massacred. Save some asters.

  7. I have to say how impressed I am with anyone that can garden up north (which for me is above the mason-dixon). I am just astonished that there is frost already for some of you. It’s back in the 90s again today … but at least there is a breeze and hopes for rain for the weekend with the tropical storm in the gulf. come on rain!

  8. Usually, I am not one to rush the seasons. But after this past gardening season with severe drought, water restrictions and high temps, I am welcoming Autumn with open arms.

  9. Jenn: The weather here is incredibly hot and humid all summer long… we get a decent growing season and can grow long season edibles like tomatillos that require about 70-80 days. I can also grow food into the fall no problem. Thankfully we do not get frost here quite that early.

    JenB: Thank god for asters. I forgot I had put some in last year and there they were as a surprise last week.

    Vicky Harper: I agree that the end is a beautiful season. I love the garden in decay even if it makes me sad to see it go.

    Vanessa: I always think winter lasts half the year too. It’s an exaggeration created by the fact that I dislike so much about it. I do think it is beautiful if you can get out of the city or into a city park. I am just a wimp when it comes to freezing temperatures.

  10. I’m in the Cincinnati area. While the leaves have begun changing, and the nights are chilly, our days are still going up into the 80s and 90s.

    Viva la denial!

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