The fall of the year.

A basket of apples by the back door
beneath the sweater pegs
The autumn winds lift along the street
A pair of dancing legs ...
~~ from "One More Colour" by Jane Siberry

Equinox 2011 3
If you were up very early this morning--at 4:04 a.m. CST--you might have caught the autumnal equinox. You wouldn’t have really seen anything but you would have been awake when the sun passed over the equator on its way to make spring and summer in the southern hemisphere while we enjoy fall--or maybe you say autumn--and (some would say "are subjected to") winter. And today we will see approximately equal ("equi") hours of day and night ("nox") before days start getting noticeably shorter.
Equinox 2011 1
I have heard Americans disparaged, usually by the British, for using the word "fall" in place of autumn. Fall makes sense, though, doesn't it? Autumn descends and temperatures fall, leaves fall, apples fall, acorns fall, crops fall, darkness falls, the year falls away. Plenty of falling around this time of year.
Equinox 2011 9
In days of olde ("olde" is about 1500ish and prior), autumn was referred to sensibly as harvest. When people moved into cities and away from traditional farming lifestyles, the season called harvest became autumn (from the French "automne"), and harvest referred strictly to the act of harvesting, not the entire season. The phrase "fall of the leaf"--to denote autumn--was shortened to fall, a term British settlers eventually introduced into American English. While fall seems more common here and autumn more common there, I've always preferred autumn, a word I find pretty and poetic. But I'm not snobby ... either is fine with me.
Signs of fall sedum
Although the flowers in my garden begin to fade and die at this time of year--except mums and sedum, which are just blooming--I feel most alive with the changing colors and cooler days, especially after a hot, sticky, mosquito-ridden summer. I am always happy to tuck away my summer wardrobe in favor of jeans, long sleeves, socks and cozy fleece jackets.
Autumn mums

Fall is unquestionably my favorite season--I love the crisp air, the smell of dry leaves, the crunch of dry acorns under foot, sipping mugs of hot apple cider, the possibility of fires in the fireplace, pulling a warm flannel sheet over me at night. If I could be a tree it would be a sugar maple, so I could wear those blazing oranges, reds and golds every autumn. Plus, spookyfun Halloween is in October. And my birthday!
Autumn maple tree
Best of all, fall is the time for all things pumpkiny (I already have a baking pumpkin to make Harvest Pumpkin Salad for our equinox dinner), maple-syrupy, appley, hot cidery, soupy, Halloweeny ... but not yet. For now I want to enjoy the transition from summer to fall/autumn.
Equinox 2011 10
To welcome the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, here is a pleasant tune called "The Fall Song" (that link takes you directly to the song) by my very own brother Mark (that link takes you to his bikey blog). I hope you take a listen and enjoy while you are celebrating the change of season.

So, what do you think--fall or autumn? Happy Autumnal Equinox!