September 23, 2011

Autumnal Equinox

Fickle. It’s the only word to explain how odd our weather has been of late. Here it is, the Autumnal Equinox — when summer fades and the chilly winds (and rains) of Autumn bless us with cooler temperatures and clean, fresh air — and despite the calendar recognition of the spinning planet’s relationship to the sun, we are drowning in fickle weather.

Case in point: Last week Gretchen pulled out a sweater. The day was cold. The chill in the air tickled my nose and made me curl up even tighter in my bed. Everyone we talked to said, “Wow, it’s cold!” and people talked about turning on their furnaces for the first time in months. Then, not 24 hours later, it’s 78 degrees and 95% humidity (okay, maybe not that humid, but we’re sensitive here in the PNW and so it felt like 95% humidity).

And it’s stayed like this for the whole week. We go out for a walk and my tongue instantly sags and sweat pours off Gretchen’s forehead and back. It’s hard to breathe, especially at night, and every time we get close to water (the lake, a drinking fountain, a muddy puddle) I pull Gretchen toward it.

What the heck is going on? This is not Autumn? This is not crisp mornings followed by clear, blue skies. This is not cool nights and misty breezes. This is uncomfortable. Muggy. Exhausting. Weird. No one knows how to handle it. Even the flowers and trees are mixed up. Some leaves are turning and while flowers are blooming. The tomatoes are finally ripening, but the basil looks like it’s suffocating.

We all kind of look a bit like we’re suffocating.

I always look forward to the Autumnal Equinox, partly because I like saying it – I like the way it uses all parts of my mouth when I say it out loud – but what I really love is how it means fall is coming — a time when we snuggle closer together and eat warm foods and sleep in because the sun is not calling us out to play. But with this unseasonal mugginess no one is interested in snuggling, warm foods feel claustrophobic, and sleep eludes us all because we’re all unable to really breathe.

While I don’t mean to sound like a complainer, it makes my job as a dog dog walker exhausting. My tongue hasn’t gotten such a workout in a long time — panting these days has become almost aerobic — and for the first time in my life, I’m wishing I could sweat out of my skin. Something has to change.

My friends agree:

Rosie and Tyson, because of their short snouts, really struggle with the breathing in this humidity.

“It’s like breathing through a down pillow,” Tyson complained the other day.

“But look at the Autumn leaves,” observed Rosie, “What’s with that?”

Even dogs I met on the street were disturbed by the fickleness of the weather.

“I’m an old fellow,” said Joey who I met in Fremont. “This muggy weather feels good on my old bones, but it sure tires me out!”

Even when these two strange people tried to run away with me, I was just too hot to go anywhere! Of course, it didn’t help that they tried to move in two separate directions. What clowns!

My week wasn’t normal in terms of my work, either. I got to see Rosie and Tyson like a normally do, but Monty was on vacation with his Mom and Woobie’s foot is still broken. I got to see Roux, which was nice, though her tongue as low as mine in the muggy air. Of course, when I’m hot I like to roll in the grass. Roux worried that I wasn’t doing what I should have been doing and then she tried to kiss me. Ewwww! It’s way too hot for that!!!

But do you see all those downed leaves?

Yes, there are hints that Autumn may push away Summer’s over-stay.

Either that or Roux’s going to chase summer away!

Getting Roux to sit and stay for a photo is quite a challenge. Right when the shutter fires, she leaps up and races toward Gretchen thinking that the treat is a-comin! You gotta love her spirit!

I got to go on a really fun romp with my friend Paige who agrees with me completely:

(Thanks Auntie Sheila for the photos!)

“It’s time,” she said. “Don’t let these flowers fool you. Think pumpkins,” she suggested and so I closed my eyes and did my best to think about all those things I love about Autumn. Gretchen says the forecast calls for cooler temperatures and rain, but I won’t believe until I feel the rain on my curls, the cool air blowing through my ears, and my tongue shrinking back into my mouth a bit more.

Yes, we try to find the beauty in it all, of course — the flowers bursting forth in their last hoo-rah, the anomaly of fall leaves piled up at the park, and eating dinner on the back porch — but I guess I’m kind of a calendar driven dog. Today is the Autumnal Equinox — let’s get Autumnal!


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