There is a definite feel of imminent fall in the air, even though it is still summer-hot.  We get two or three days like this each summer and they provide a snapshot of how the weather during the next few months will feel.  I like to call them “Fall Preview Days”.  The same occurs in fall, winter and spring (i.e., winter, spring and summer previews) and they are a nice reminder, after three months of a particular weather pattern, that a change is coming.

Speaking of fall, planting now for harvest later this year may not happen.  This is partially due to late-summer laziness (as I said, it is still hot and the days languid) and partially due to space limitations (the sprawling and still-producing zucchini plant has mostly filled the vacant quadrant of the east planter).  But there is another factor as well.

Our fringe seasons are affected not only by the shorter days but also by the lower inclination of the sun.  There are three closely-spaced, tall and narrow fir trees along the property line between our neighbors and us, just south of the pool fence.  They act as the pointer on a giant sundial.  In July, the tip of their combined shadow traces a line that arcs across the strip of lawn between the pool deck and the fence.  In the middle of the afternoon, their shade conveniently envelops a hammock we have positioned there, making it the ideal spot for a midday nap.

In August, the northern edge of the shadow reaches into the pool.  It interferes with the water’s direct gain of solar heat and the water temperature drops accordingly.  But on a bright and clear day, there is less glare (which in July is blinding) and it allows us to swim with less risk of sunburn.

By Labor Day—the official, if not astrological, end of summer—the shadow cast by the fir trio extends all the way across the pool and deck to the strip of lawn to the north where our planters are located.  As a result, each planter is in partial shade for an hour or so as the shadow sweeps from west to east (opposite the path of the sun).  The reduced solar exposure is equivalent to what the conditions will be a month from now.

Combined with the woods to the east and west of us, our fall growing season is effectively shortened.  Anything we plant now or in the next few weeks may not make it to fruition.  For that matter, it remains to be seen whether the string beans, planted in early July (see July 11, 2012) but nowhere near maturity, will start to produce before the weather turns cold.

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