Essay: On the Unofficial Notification of Fall
(2015) My expectation that fall begins on the first day of September started when I was in grade school. Perhaps waking up at a set time for the first day of school meant that I felt the chilly morning air, thinking the season was turning. It’s still a shock to me today when – as it was the past few days – the high temperature is in the nineties. I thought fall started unofficially on the first of right before Labor Day. Each year, September is supposed to bring the good parts of the season. School buses mean class is back in session. If it’s fall, doesn’t that mean apples are throwing themselves at us, eager to be picked? Aren’t pumpkin-carving sets ready for use? Pumpkin beers seem to never leave the shelves these days so, moving on. I certainly cannot forget to mention flannel shirts.
There is an unforeseen ritual that happens at the beginning of September in the northeast. Just tonight, two cyclists were waved to multiple times on my regular jaunt. I’m sure they’re doing the same thing I am which is forgetting miles. September is about taking advantage of the waning sunlight after work. Pick a route and hammer it for its duration. While some riders begin to don headlights, those who choose to ride without them are on a schedule to keep- no time for chitchat.
According to the almanac this area is losing two minutes of sunlight per day. That’s astounding. One week could mean the difference in five miles or fifteen minutes. Then the routes get closer to home before ultimately ceasing to exist out-of-doors for the remainder of the year. Soon riders will root around the closet for the old arm and knee warmers to help with the lowering temperatures to help with planning the long weekend rides. Maybe even a new jar of embrocation will be cracked open for the season.
While it’s tough to see the mid-week ride threatened at fall's arrival, it means the road season is coming to an end. Weekend touring rides begin to take center stage. Riders turn to socializing instead of hammer-fests. It becomes a sightseeing experience to watch fall come in properly with cloudy days and visible breath. Until I come back in the dark I’ll hasten my same old shorter route. Eventually the distance will be too far to hammer for all fourteen miles. Who knows? Maybe I’ll see the same riders just like tonight.