I remember, years ago, being surprised when a Gaelic speaker referred to the month of August as the autumn. To my mind, having only left the USA a few summers previously, August still meant broiling hot weather, open swimming pools, the last few weeks of summer vacation until Labor Day at the beginning of September. Her answer betrayed as much bemusement as my question: “Because May, June and July are summer!”
The longer I’ve lived in this country (22 years a few days ago), the longer I’ve come to appreciate the truth of this. May is often warm and summery (even if frosts threaten until late in the month), wildflowers are in bloom everywhere, and the nights are strongly lengthening. It’s much more like summer than spring.
But it’s mid-August when, in Scotland, you start to notice the nights draw in. Granted, this means being dismayed that the sunset skies happen at 9:30 pm rather than quarter to midnight. Schools in Scotland start up again in August – on the 13th this year in Glasgow. And, even if (unusually) the weather is still warm, there are signs in nature that things are on the turn. The chestnut trees, one of the first, begin to put on their fall colours. Other trees, still green, have that windblown look of inside-out leaves that marks the end of the summer.
This year, autumn has announced itself with a real drop in temperatures. It’s been in the teens/50s day after day, and tonight the weatherman warned some glens may see a frost. The leaves were already beginning to turn ten days ago:
We are savouring the last of the long light evenings, and the bounty of the garden:
The weather has been very typically Scottish – cold and wet. This pipe band from Toronto came well-prepared. The snare drums were covered by plastic while they played:
The swan babies are getting very grown-up now, and the duck babies are as big as their parents:
Mama swan has been standing and extending her wings full-length, and all eight of her children have been imitating her. I wonder when they begin to learn to fly?
I’m wearing fingerless gloves as I type this, because although we’ve had the heat on once in a while in the last week, we’re trying really hard to resist it in August, for heaven’s sake. Who knows, we may yet have an Indian summer and some warm days to come.