Summer is gone and Autumn has officially begun here in the northern hemisphere. The hot breath of summer is still blazing in many places though. Once again Death Valley topped out on Saturday at 107?F (41? C) with a low of 20?F (-6? C) at both Bodie, CA and near Mackay, ID.
Bodie is today a ghost town but started in 1859 as a mining camp. The discovery of gold would lead to a boom in 1876 and by 1879 its population was somewhere between 7,000-10,000. The boom lasted until around 1880. Then the discovery of gold elsewhere began drawing people away. The mines kept producing gold and a smaller community thrived in the town for many years. Most who stayed did so because they wanted to settle down. By 1910 the population was 698. The city newspaper folded in 1912. The Standard Consolidation Mine was closed in 1913, was bought up and reopened and for a while made some profit. It was not enough to stop the decline though. In 1917 the Bodie Railway stopped running and the last mine closed in 1942. The 1920 census showed a population of 120. People would still live there until after the end of WW II, but it was mostly a ghost town. In 1961 Bodie was declared a National Historic Landmark and the following year the Bodie State Historic Park was created. Today you can visit the once boom town and see, from the existing and surviving buildings, what it was like back in the late 19th century to live in a Gold Rush boom town.
With October coming up soon, Halloween decorations are appearing along with the usual Halloween themed commercials on television. With the fall harvest comes the change in produce. More apples appear since they are harvested in late summer and early fall. Artichokes, cranberries, pears, and pumpkins are also available during this time. In areas with lots of wineries, grapes are harvested for both wine and table use. No more grapes from Chile!
Although Covid restrictions have eased, supply issues and higher costs means a lot of Halloween candy and other items are more expensive this year than before. This may lead families doing simpler Halloween activities. There was something to be said about dunking for apples, caramel covered apples, roasting pumpkin seeds and making lots of popcorn. And with a lot of cleverness, you can make easy decorations without having to buy them at the store. Many people are relearning how their great-grandparents got through the Great Depression by keeping costs low and at the same time keeping their families fed.
There are two equinoxes in the year, Autumn (September) and Spring (March). When these equinoxes occur the sun is directly on the equator, and the length of day and night is almost equal. In the Northern hemisphere, the September Equinox heralds autumn but the opposite below the equator where it heralds the beginning of spring. Go here to see the time it begins in your area.
For those of us in the North, it means a transition from summer to winter. During this period days start getting shorter and nights longer. Depending on where you live, you will likely have moderate warm days followed by long and cooler nights. Harvests of many crops often take place during the fall and in the old days you would make preparations to store food for the winter. Harvest festivals are very popular and in particular Halloween. Pumpkins begin appearing along with all kinds of Halloween decor culminating, of course, in All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31.
September is the ninth month on the Gregorian and Julian calendars. On the old Roman calendar, September was the seventh month since their calendar started in March. When the calendar was revised to add January and February, the name Septem (meaning seven) remained. In the Northern Hemisphere, September is when autumn begins but in the southern half it is the first month of spring.
September is traditionally the start of the academic year for most schools, though some do start in late August. The Eastern Orthodox Church starts its liturgical year in September. The Autumnal Equinox takes place between September 22-24 and marks astronomically the first day of autumn. The first full moon of September is often called a Harvest Moon since many farmers begin harvesting crops that are harvested in the fall.
While daytime temperatures can remain warm during September, generally the nights start getting cooler and the sun starts setting much earlier. And generally, the sun starts come up later in the morning resulting in people going to work when it is still dark. The birthstone for September is the sapphire (represents clear thinking) The September flowers are the forget-me-not, morning glory, and the aster.
[Historical note: The ending to the musical is stirring with them marching over the mountains. This did not happen and going over the mountains from Salzburg would take them into Germany! What really happened is that since Captain von Trapp had dual citizenship (Austrian & Italian) he had his family fled with day packs by taking the train to Italy. From there they made their way ultimately to England and eventually the United States. They were already a well known singing group before the Germain takeover of Austria, so they had contacts in Europe and America. They gave up everything to be free. After the war, they learned their home had been taken over by Heinrich Himmler. The house was donated to the Catholic Church and Captain Trapp helped his fellow Austrians with a relief fund, for which he is fondly remembered for.]
Hard to believe we are almost at the middle of August. For many, this is summer vacation times with thousands crowding the beaches and tourist spots. It is also a time for getting ready to go back to school. Kids see it coming and try to get as much summer as they can before school reopens. Parents are also getting stuff for their kids as well, though with the difficult inflationary times we are in, only necessities are being bought. Everyone is being hit by high prices at retail and grocery stores. It does not look like it will get any better soon either.
At least Sunday is a day one can at least relax. Enjoy the day and some nice music to go with it. Happy Sunday everyone.
August is the eight month on the Gregorian and Julian calendars. One the old Roman calendar this was the sixth month called Sextilis since that calendar start in March. It is named for the Roman emperor Augustus and this month was chosen as many important battles he won were done during this month. It is the last full month of summer in the Northern Hemisphere but in the southern the equivalent of February. In Europe, it is often the month where many workers take vacations.
August in the Northern Hemisphere is also when the first harvest and harvest festivals begin. The dog days of summer end officially on August 11. The Perseid Meteor shower which began in July continues to August 24. Usually the best viewing days are between August 9-13th. The August full moon is sometimes called Sturgeon Moon but since harvesting begins in the Northern Hemisphere it has also called Grain Moon, Fruit Moon, and Barley Moon.. For the people that live in the town of Ny-Ålesund in Norway, August is very important. As the northernmost town in the world, the summer has been one long day. The sun has been staying above the horizon since April and finally during August Polar Day occurs. That often occurs on August 24 though it can vary year to year. Tourists often visit between May-August. The sun does not rise between late October to mid-February.
Welcome to July everyone! July is the seventh month in the Gregorian calendar and is named for Julius Caesar. On the old Roman calendar, it was called Quintillis meaning fifth as July was the fifth month on that calendar. It is generally the hottest month in the Northern Hemisphere and the coldest month in the Southern Hemisphere, which is in winter. The old phrase “Dog days of summer” has nothing to do with canines, but an event in the night sky. During the early parts of July–often the most hot and humid–the star Sirius can be seen in the night sky and is part of the constellation Canis Major (the largest dog). The hot days of July then became described as the dog days in reference to the astronomical event.
July has another astronomical event of note, a Supermoon. There are different names for it (Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Hay Moon etc) This occurs when the Moon is the closest to the Earth making it appear larger than it normally would appear. It can be either a new moon or a full moon. The July Supermoon is often called a Buck Moon since it in this month new antlers appear on the deer buck’s forehead. It turns out that male deer shed their antlers every year and grow new ones.
There are many observances and events, but two biggest national holidays are Independence Day (U.S., 4 July) and Bastille Day (France, 14 July). Independence Day celebrates the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on 4 July 1776 while Bastille Day in France commemorates the storming of the Bastille in Paris on 14 July 1789. It is considered the start of the French Revolution.
The Summer Solstice occurred back on June 21 where the North Pole tilts directly towards the sun making more sunlight the farther north above the equator you live. It typically means more warmer days and nights though that greatly depends on where you live. Some places are known for hot summers while others are known for more mild conditions. Now if you live closer to the North Pole (Alaska, parts of Canada, and Scandinavian countries)the sun literally never sets during this time of year. Of course the reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere. They get less sunlight on the June Solstice and the closer you are to the Antarctic Circle means less sunlight or total night. For them, it is the Winter Solstice. It is hard to believe Australia, for instance, gets cold but they do get cooler days and nights during this time.