On September 23rd, at 4:21 a.m., the autumnal equinox marks the onset of fall, a transition time of summer to winter.
As a child growing up in New York, it was easy to recognize the arrival of autumn. By mid-September, green leaves slowly faded to shades of yellow, orange, red and crimson. By mid-October the colorful landscape peaked and with the arrival of fall frosts, the colorful leaves dropped to the ground.
Now, retired in central Florida, with the temperature on this mid-September day at 93 degrees, the seasons meld. There are no colorful landscapes to signal autumn and seldom are there chilly frosts to signal fall. But after living here a few years, I discovered a way to recognize that autumn is about to arrive. And I owe it to a tiny, spunky bird – the hummingbird.
I spent my summer evenings sitting on my porch to watch ruby-throated hummingbirds feast on the nectar from the crayon red blossoms on a fire cracker bush in my front yard. May, June, July, August and early September these precision flyers arrived just before sunset, attracted to the plant’s cascading red blossoms, to get their fill before darkness sets in.
Then one early September evening they were gone, bound for Central America for the winter. Many of them will journey across the Gulf of Mexico to their winter home in Central America. As I sit out front, the fire cracker bush is devoid of hummingbirds. Yes, autumn is upon us!