Here in the Bay Area, there's a certain feel in the air when fall has come--an assortment of possible feels, truth to tell. The one we all dread is when the wind turns hot and strong, the leaves dry up and turn to dust in the air, blinding the eyes, and every breath is evaluated for the taste of smoke. October is Fire Season, when the particulates in the air turn the sunset into a Maxfield Parrish painting.
But this year fall came with a different feeling. Between one day and the next, the air tasted...colder, damper, darker. And then, with almost no warning, an energetic downpour passed through. Not a large-system storm that wets everything across the eleven counties, but the sort where I could bicycle to Walnut Creek and back and not realize it had rained until I came back to wet pavements in Concord. At least twice since then I've woken up to clear skies and puddles on the patio. The air is thick with thoughts of, "Please, let it be a wet winter."
In the space of a week, I went from sleeping with the window open and the ceiling fan running to swapping out the summer duvet (that mostly lay scrunched at the foot of the bed) for the winter one.
The tomatoes are shutting down their flowers and I'm reviewing recipes for green tomato relish in case we don't get enough hot days for the remaining fruit to ripen. On the days when it's still warm enough to sit out in the garden, birdsong has given way to the rasping of squirrels cracking nuts and the explosive crunch of the black walnet shells from the alley behind my yard as cars pass through.
Dusk has drawn back far enough that we put the running lights on the dragonboats before taking them out, but not yet far enough that the bay has calmed and we can paddle out past the breakwater to practice with the fairy-lights of The City in view. The next month's practices will be marked by watching sunset creep slowly south from the Marin headlands until it's framed between the towers of the Golden Gate. If the fog allows, we time the practice route to include a pause to watch the sun sink into the sea. Some people say they've seen the Green Flash, but I never have.
What signs mark the turning of your season?