Strident voices herald a jumble of dark wings. Flapping, they come into focus as the figures of large birds emerge from behind the trees, close overhead. Two lines take shape as a vector coalesces in the outstretched neck, head and bill of the body of a goose, the lead bird of what has become a clear "V" formation pointing due south.
Sunset is an hour earlier than a month ago and the coolest evening of the season has arrived. Another "V" gains elevation and our eyes follow it south. That morning, meteorologists beamed frost warnings to the ears of northern growers.
Swallows and robins flocked together and departed weeks ago, when day length slipped under 14 hours from its 15 hour 16 minute peak in June. Today, there will be 12 hours, 37 minutes between sunrise and sunset, and night is gaining 3 minutes nearly every day.
Hummingbirds linger to sip the nectar of late season flowers, while farmers and gardeners pull onions, pick tomatoes, dig potatoes and gather squash ahead of the killing frost. Extended-day harvesting is soon to be lit by the Harvest Moon, which will reach full phase Thursday at 7:13 a.m. A nearly full moon will be up in the east at 6:19 p.m. Wednesday, 40 minutes before sunset in the west. Full moon rises at 6:51 Thursday, while sunset is at 6:57. A nearly full waning (decreasing in size) moon will rise at 7:24 Friday soon after sunset at 6:56.
Every evening, catch brilliant planet Venus with dimmer planet Saturn low in the west as darkness falls. Watch as golden Saturn, above Venus tonight, moves closer to Venus in the coming days. It will be closest on Wednesday.
To contact Judy Isacoff, go to: www.naturesturn.org