Say Hello to the Dark

This year, the official end of autumn arrives on Dec. 21st, seven weeks hence. However, the real turn of the year toward the oppressive darkness of winter always arrives for me with a bang when daylight saving time ends and darkness begins to descend late afternoon, creeping earlier and earlier, day by day, until it feels we have almost no time at all before nightfall.  This year, daylight saving ends two nights from today, on Nov. 4th.  

What an extraordinary time we enjoyed during the first half of autumn. After that first initial dip in temperature into the 40s in early September, we had weeks of hot weather this year that felt like it belonged more to mid-August rather than to late September and early October. Extra weeks of temperatures lingering in the 80s and barely a leaf had yet turned color. With annuals and perennials still in full flower, way past their normal dates, and the garden still producing a variety of vegetables, it felt almost like we were enjoying temperatures from a different clime. Still, given the length of time it took for the warm weather to settle in last spring, this generous season turns out to balance perfectly with the tough and lingering cold we endured in the second quarter of the year.  

Still sitting outside, writing during the warm hours of the day, when I turn my head, I may still catch a brief, sunlit rain of yellow leaves and seed pods. Even the yellowjackets are enjoying the extended warm season.  I abandoned a half-eaten apple several days past, and watched for a few days as an entire small army came to devour it to its core, claiming their own space on the patio, no crumb left behind.  

Sign Up for E-News

The animals are busy fattening up for the winter. Turning onto Delancey Road last week, I caught sight of a red-tailed hawk going in for a kill. There was the thrum-thrum-thrum of wings as I watched the bird lift itself into the air, while from his claws undulated the small body, caught, helpless, below him. One of my cats does the majority of his hunting during the autumn. I worry about him, single-minded as he is in hunting mode, sitting for hours and waiting. Several cats have gone missing in the neighborhood recently. Lately, the howls and yips of the Eastern coyotes in nearby fields come earlier in the evening and far more frequently than in years past. It’s now a daily event, moving in closer, sounding creepier, more predatory; their raucous yipping calls to mind the higher notes of hyenas on the savannah, rather than the deeper howl of the gray wolf.  

Heralded by a windstorm and a rainstorm, the cooler weather has finally caught up with itself. The leaves have been turning quickly these two last weeks, so that everywhere I walk and drive it finally feels like proper autumn. This year, though, the colors may end up less vivid than during a prime year, what with the dry spell we rode out the last six weeks. There are exceptions, though, such as the rows of burning bush shrubs lining the roads around North Salem and Ridgefield, Conn., already bright, glorious, in a color range from dark fuchsia to cherry red.  

Nature moves in its own time; every year a unique symphony of its own making, with specific directions, when new voices and shading and color move in and fade out. Never two times the same. But in the end, however punctual or delayed, it reaches midseason and season’s end. And a new season begins.  
Mara Schiffren, a Campus Watch Fellow, is a writer and functional medicine health coach who lives in North Salem. You can reach her at

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Cuomo’s Frivolous Lawsuits Cost Us Money

Since Donald Trump became president, New York State has filed more than 100 lawsuits against the federal government. This includes those filed by both Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It does not include lawsuits filed by the City of New York. Most of them are political in nature, filed to please the plaintiffs’ voting base. In the real world, if we had filed ...

Beautiful, 'Clean' Coal

After completing his first full year in office—an alarming year, at that— Donald Trump has concluded that climate change is not a significant national threat and that the sacred lands and waters of this country should be sold to the highest bidder. 

The Trump administration has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement; deregulated national landmarks; freed public lands for ...

Multigrain, Please

I have no craving for white bread; it’s too plain, predictable and tasteless for me. I hunger for a chunk of multigrain or rye, maybe even a good-sized piece of pumpernickel raisin, with a schmear of cream cheese on the side.

I have no appetite for bland, clean-cut, middle-of-the-road, isolationist politics. And I find unsettling the cultural sameness, gross consumerism and incurious ...

A Trip to the 'Liberry'

Raise your hand if you didn’t—did not—call the library the “liberry” when you were little. I’m guessing not a lot of hands just went up.

Didn’t just about all of us say “liberry” when we were learning to read? (Well, whaddya expect when a place is named something way too easy for little kids to mispronounce?)

OK. Now, raise your hand if ...

I'm Mrs. Heat Miser

To be perfectly honest, I did not need a large rodent with insomnia to convince me that we had six more weeks of winter. It’s been so cold outside lately that when I go out, my nostrils stick together. The dog is so hesitant to go out that he does his business right on the deck, less than five feet from the door, and then gives me a look of contemptuous indignation when he comes back in the ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, February 21, 6:00 PM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

Freedom from Smoking

Health & Wellness

Wed, February 28, 6:00 PM

Putnam County Department of Health, Brewster

Freedom from Smoking

Health & Wellness

Thu, March 1, 7:00 PM

Kennedy Catholic High School, Somers

The Kennedy Catholic High School Players ...

Arts & Entertainment Other Religions And Spirituality

Bazzo Needs to Get His Facts Straight

February 15, 2018

To the editor,

Once again Mr. Bazzo, in his Feb. 8, column cherry picks facts, ignores other facts, passes along lies and spins so fast to the right that it’s amazing he doesn’t drill himself into the earth.

Bazzo is correct—the economy is doing well, and we should give credit where credit is due. Thank you, President Obama for taking the economy from the brink of another ...