Labor Day is NOT the beginning of fall

Okay, all you summer sun-worshippers, don't be packing away all your fun-in-the-sun necessities just yet. Although the next few weeks in our area will see the gradual transition from summer to autumn weather, it's not a "bang-and-it's-autumn" thing, but usually rather subtle changes that we barely notice.

Many mornings will have a slight chill in the air, and green leaves on some trees will change to non-green colors. Garden plants such as tomatoes, peppers and squash will begin withering and dying. Goldenrod stalks will turn from green to brown, valley fog will become an almost daily dawn phenomenon, and large flocks of blackbirds and starlings will dot telephone pole wires in early preparation for their later migration south.

I guess many folks view the Labor Day weekend as summer's last hurrah, and in some ways they're right, for those aforementioned changes usually start just about that time. But that doesn't mean we'll not get the occasional stretch of summer-like weather as we creep toward and into autumn (the equinox is September 23 this year). Between now and November our area can yield some of the most pleasant weather and outdoor opportunities of the entire year. Sadly, all too many pack away their outdoor interests the day after Labor Day, thereby needlessly extending the waiting time at least two months until they get to enjoy next year's outings. Regardless of the activity walking, hiking, nature watching, biking the daytime temperatures and humidity are normally far more agreeable for the next couple of months than they have been. There's few biting or buzzing insects to bother you, and popular outdoor areas are usually lightly used now, so you pretty much have them to yourself. If you enjoy watching wildlife, the next two months are primetime as critters of all kinds start scurrying about, trying to fatten up for the long winter ahead

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