Ozark Outdoors

Autumnal Equinox won’t hurt, but you’ll feel it soon enough

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The golden hues of late afternoon make a solitary leave into a portrait of autumn.

The golden hues of late afternoon make a solitary leave into a portrait of autumn.

For those who love sampling pioneer life in the Ozarks, this autumn weekend is just for you, as the Gray-Campbell Farmstead Association presents its Lifestyle Expo. At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, the new Liberty School will be formal dedicated, but there will be events throughout Saturday and Sunday, from a pie judging to outdoor church services to artisans demonstrating their crafts. Take someone from the next generation and introduce them to our Ozarks culture.

Actually, the first day of autumn is upon us, but not quite here.

It’s highly unlikely you will feel it. In fact, you may not even be aware of it, but at 9:29 p.m. (CDT) on Monday, Sept. 22, the Sun will move across the Equator in a non-event called the is the Autumnal Equinox. For those of us in the Ozarks, daylight hours will be shorter, nights will be longer. And while there are still likely to be summer-like temperatures, this is the first day of autumn.

Then in a few more weeks, at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2, Daylight Savings Time (DST) ends until next March 8, 2015.

Actually, the daylight hours have been growing slightly shorter each day since the Summer Solstice on June 24, the longest day of the year. Even so, the daylight has continued to exceed the hours of darkness until the equinox makes them officially equal for one short time. Even now, a few trees are turning more colorful, usually those in a somewhat weakened state from some malady.

Birds are swarming, migratory flocks are beginning to fly south (notably the hummingbirds, which may seem more plentiful at your flowers and feeders as they individually migrate), temperatures are generally cooler, and animals’ coats are thickening, to name a few.

For the next three months, daylight hours will continue to shorten. Finally, on Dec. 21, at 5:03 p.m. (CDT) comes the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year measured by daylight hours. After the Winter Solstice, the days will begin to grow fractionally longer again. By the Vernal Equinox on March 20, 2015, at 5:45 p.m. (CDT), the periods of daylight and darkness to reach equilibrium once again.

From the Vernal Equinox, the days will continue to grow longer, until we reach the Summer Solstice again on June 21, 2015, at 11:38 p.m. CDT., and the whole cycle repeats.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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