Back East, it’s fall. Apple-picking time. Fields are plowed under, corn harvested, and fields are readied for fall fun: mazes for Halloween formed out of straw bales, pumpkins showing up in farmers’ markets. There are chilly days, and birdbaths may have that skim of ice on them. It’s definitely fall.
Here in Phoenix, it’s also fall. Our fall is a bit more subtle. The sun has now dropped far enough South so the pizza-oven heat is broken. We no longer have strings of more-than-110 degree days, and our nights drop into the 70s. The pool is no longer hot every time you get into it. It’s brisk.
RV’s come down out of the mountains and are parked in front and back yards. Some of these are big, and, frankly, I hate to see them looming over fences. I don’t own one, so it looks like jealousy if I complain.
Migrating birds start to show up. Birds we don’t see for most of the year suddenly are in the parks, at the bird bath and feeders. Except for pigeons, we don’t see many flocks of birds from April to September. Now they are back.
Oranges and lemons start to grow again. They stopped growing in May when it got too hot. The citrus trees drop their sun scorched leaves and put out some new, tentative leaves to make up for it.
House plants you took in to protect them from the heat can be put out again. It’s time to plant tomatoes and crops that burn up in the summer. Tomatoes, peppers, and flowers can go into containers now. They’ll be on the Thanksgiving table.
Sage, desert willow and Cape Honeysuckle start to bloom again. Most plants don’t bloom in the heat of summer. Some trees drop their leaves. They come back now, ready for milder days and using the water to produce lush flowers instead of simply survive.
Fall in the Southwest is a time of promise. Promise to start hiking and exploring again. Promise to invite people over for outdoor eating. It’s a surprising time of gratitude that outdoor life can start up and our utility bills head down.