Mini Season: Cold Dew

Early October welcomes the mini season of Cold Dew.  This season runs from October 8 until October 22.  During this time the nights are getting progressively colder and the days are getting shorter.  Frost can be expected in the mornings, but it usually disappears with the rising sun. Below is a haiku by Buson that seems to capture this time of year.

Miles of frost –
On the lake
The moon’s my own.
-Buson

The mini seasons were originally created by the ancient Chinese and then adapted by the Japanese in 1685. (1) When the Japanese adapted the calendar, they added the micro-seasons. The micro-seasons of this season include:

  1. The Geese Arrive (Oct 8-Oct 12)
  2. The Chrysanthemum Flowers (Oct 13- Oct 17)
  3. The Grasshopper Sings (Oct 18 – Oct 22)

This is perhaps where my location in New England and the Japanese climate begin to differ. For us, the geese have begun their migration south.  So instead of geese arriving, we have geese leaving. 


An interesting event that happens to birds just prior to migration is molting. Molting is the process where a bird changes out their damaged feathers for new feathers. Because feathers are similar in construction to human hair or nails, meaning that they are built of the protein keratin and not living tissue, they are unable to repair themselves. Molting takes a lot of energy so some birds “schedule” this process in between the breeding and migration seasons. 

Molting Male Goldfinch, Photo Credit Scott Martin, Macaulay Library
Molting Male Goldfinch, Photo Credit: Scott Martin

Many birds will take on a completely different appearance after the fall molting. An example of this is the male goldfinch who will shed their bright yellow feathers and replace them with duller olive color feathers. 


The landscape is also changing at this time.  As the days get shorter and the temperature a little colder, the trees stop making food in preparation for winter. The scientist at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry explains that leaves change color because, “The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.”(2 The are many variables that contribute to the intensity of the color of the leaves including rainfall, the first frost, and overall temperatures.

Right now, in northern Vermont, we are entering the moderate/peak foliage. This means that most of the trees are changing and there is the greatest amount of color visible on the landscape. The tourist activity that is brought into the State because of the foliage is so vital for the economy that there is even a webpage that will give you updated reports or where to find the best color.   


Finally, as I contemplate the arrival of this new mini season and recognize all the changes that are happening, I am drawn to the poem “Fall, leaves, fall” by  Emily Brontë (1818-1848).

Fall, leaves, fall by Emily Brontë

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
A few red leaves
Photo by Valiphotos on Pexels.com

The beginning of autumn is such a wonderful time to observe the many changes that are happening around us. It is also that time where we intentionally prepare for the upcoming months of cold and hibernation. If you have time this week, go outside and see what is changing around you. Feel free to share your observations below.


Resources:

  1. Noticing the 72 Seasons
  2. Why Leaves Change Color
  3. Fall, leaves, fall by Emily Brontë

18 thoughts on “Mini Season: Cold Dew

Add yours

  1. I live in Virginia. We are still having hot days but the trees are turning leaves. Acorns are dropping and squirrels are gathering nuts. I know about the dew sparkling on the morning grass, except it has to get colder for that happening.

    We have year round geese, since people feed them. We have programs to try to have them migrate north in the spring, but still a few stay around here.

    One factoid about the morning dew, in Alchemy, the Alchemists would gather morning dew in the spring (April) with white cloths. They believed that it was the purest form of water for their Alchemy. (I suppose in the mini-seasons for April, one could have Alchemists gathering dew.)

    1. The information about the morning dew and Alchemy is very interesting! I’ll have to keep this in mind when we make it around to April again. Maybe there is a mention of that somewhere.
      Also very interesting about the programs that encourage geese migration north. I have never heard of that. Thanks for adding to the story!

      1. Non-migrating geese are a problem here. It is not in the natural order of things. Yes, geese fly north in the spring, and south in the fall. But if they stay in the south past spring, they compete with the other wildlife. Please we have a goose problem where they leave their poop all over the place and attack people.

  2. Around here (NI) many homes burn oil for heating and last week I booked an engineer to come and give my boiler its annual service, ahead of the colder weather. Although we have had higher than normal temperatures during the day there is still a noticeable coolness in the early morning.
    Whilst the big oak tree in a neighbour’s garden is still green, the colour is certainly duller and when a breeze passes through, small scraps of leaves are carried away. Unless there are stronger winds or a storm the process of losing leaves goes by imperceptibly!

    1. Hi Ashley, There should probably be something about the human activities of these seasons also, such as getting the boiler cleaned, splitting and stacking wood, or putting on snow tires.
      Don’t oak trees usually hold their leaves for longer than most trees? We don’t have a lot of oaks around here so I am not very familiar.
      Thanks again for sharing. Talk soon,

      1. In my hokku verses, I try to avoid anything to do with machinery and such like but there is no reason to exclude humans, after all, we are a part of nature.
        Oaks and beech are well known for holding onto their leaves; the subject is a bit too technical for me but it’s called marcesence! I’m not sure we know why it happens as some oaks do lose their leaves like other trees. Enjoy your weekend 🙋‍♂️

      2. Thanks for the reminder about marcesence. I did some research on that last year related to young beech trees. I remember that scientist had differing opinions on the reason behind this. Some was about protection from foraging animals and other about the protective scar like coating that trees grow under the leave branch doesn’t fully develop. I might need to look that up again. Thanks for following up.

  3. Nicely penned, Mark. This inspired me to do a bit of research on Buson (I love Asian art, history and culture). His piece and Bronte’s are gorgeous. Here in SW Colorado, our fall colors consist mainly of the brilliant yellows of aspens and the glowing oranges of cottonwoods. We don’t have many hardwoods here so we lack the brilliant kaleidoscope o’ hues found in your part of the country. I recall my time in Oregon where I experienced autumn and early winter. The maples were exquisite, seemingly ablaze with reds and oranges and salmon tones. I’d never experienced anything like that before, so I can only imagine what Vermont must be like during the fall. As always, great writing that’s both educational and inspiring. 🙂

    1. Hi Mike, Thanks for sharing your experiences! I really appreciate hearing from others about the differences in nature depending on where you are in the country/world. Kaleidoscope of color is definitely a good way to describe it. It is a short lived kaleidoscope, but it is hear now. Thanks for the support! Talk soon,

  4. Love the Bronte poem. I live on Long Island. I see mostly green out my window, but I see the green fading now, I would mix my paint to match it with more yellow than blue.
    My long walks involve stopping to sit at several locations and I enjoy watching leaves fall.
    I am 64 years old, at peace in life’s autumn. I am like a tree, my hair’s pigment is draining away like chlorophyll from leaves. In the sun it is radiant. My skin is scarred like bark from surgeries and mishaps and wrinkles. I am autumn. I am beautiful.

  5. I love that Emily Bronte poem and the fall foliage picture! (I’m bias, it’s my favorite season) Great post in general. It makes me want to be more mindful to the subtle changes.

    Also, nothing beats the cool crisp air and morning dew if you get outside early enough 😍 It’s one of the most refreshing feelings to be in nature at dawn. Bring in the cold, please!

    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed the post! There is something magical about the early morning air. Thanks for the comment and adding to the conversation.

  6. I learned something new, though I am not sure if these seasons ally to the South, TN/KY to be exact. Yesterday was probably our last day in the 80’s and next week will be in the 70’s.

    1. Hi Sarah, I agree that these seasons might not match up with southern regions. We have actually been having unseasonably warm weather this year in the northern parts of the states We usually have at least one hard frost overnight by now. It was 68 today. Thanks for the comment!

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