The Confusion of Seasons Known as Falsumpring

by Mark Miles

Recently the seasons have been seriously screwed. This point was brought into focus last night as I sat watching a documentary entitled “I Have Seen the Earth Change” about climatic havoc in the Arctic. It dealt with the lives of traditional reindeer herders in Norway who’ve been experiencing noticeable shifts in their way of life for decades. I haven’t been alive as long as some of the people in this documentary, but I’ve been alive long enough to notice shifts in the region where I live nonetheless.

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I can remember when the temperatures in central North Carolina rarely exceeded 60° F in the month of October, and now in the first week of November the temperatures have exceeded 80° F on more than one occasion. Insects have been living longer due to the increase in temperatures; ladybugs, honeybees, houseflies and mosquitoes are almost as active now as they were in September. There are plants which are blooming now which are supposed to have died off a month ago, including rose, cypress vine, sweet violet, and morning-glory. There are trees which have barely turned color, especially oaks, walnuts, and pecans. And yet it’s supposed to be fall.

On a hike a few weeks ago, I found this idyllic scene which would’ve suited the season wonderfully if it had been spring. The trees were green for as far as the eye could see, there was a warm breeze in the air, and the sunlight seemed redolent of new life. And yet it’s supposed to be fall.

Similarly I found this cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) closing its petals at the end of the day but otherwise unruffled by the alleged arrival of my favorite season. These plants will die off with the first frost, which in this region should have happened by the beginning of October. This hasn’t happened, and these plants were taking it as an invitation to show their unadulterated spring colors. And yet it’s supposed to be fall.

The deciduous trees surrounding the Eno River have similarly been thriving in many locations. At the base of the trail leading to the quarry at Occoneechee Mountain, there was hardly a tree to be seen that didn’t look as if summer was in full force. The profusion of emerald green light and the soft rustling of leaves that were unready to depart gave every indication that summer was still at hand. And yet it’s supposed to be fall.

This Florida leaf-footed bug (Leptoglossus phyllopus) was right as rain when I found him perched on the stem of a flowering plant that clearly hadn’t given up the ghost either. These insects are commonly found in areas where citrus crops are grown, hence the association with Florida. However, this bug was not only not in Florida but was a few hundred miles north of it, and he wasn’t bothered by the fact in the slightest. And yet it’s supposed to be fall.

Another view of the Eno River demonstrates how many trees have still failed to change their colors. On this stretch the only trees to have lost any leaves were the sycamores, and even they were only letting them go with the begrudging enthusiasm of a banker parting with his own green. And yet it’s supposed to be fall.

Finally I found a stand of trees that was beginning to show signs of autumnal awakening. There were hues of red, yellow, and orange illuminating the forest with the first delicate hints of the season. Even so there were plenty of trees with an abundance of green that seemed to contradict the emerging consensus. And so, in light of this seasonal confusion–in which fall, summer, and spring seem to be equally prominent–it may be more appropriate to refer to this season not as fall but falsumpring.


12 thoughts on “The Confusion of Seasons Known as Falsumpring

  1. rivertoprambles November 5, 2016 / 2:53 am

    Although it may be too late for us to stem the tide of man-made climate change, I think it’s important to document the change in our local areas, if only as reference for those who want to be educated about it and help fight the battle… Thanks for sharing your contributions.

    • Mark Miles November 9, 2016 / 3:30 am

      Thank you, my friend. I appreciate that, and I agree. Hope you’re doing well and enjoying the season, whatever it might be. 👍

  2. katharineotto November 5, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    I’ve noticed for several years in Savannah that winter doesn’t start until January or February, then lasts through March and April. We had a cold spring in 2016. Asparagus, which usually sprouts in March, didn’t start coming up until June.

  3. Mel & Suan November 5, 2016 / 3:40 pm

    Indeed. rain cycles have shifted. temperatures are skewed. Climate change does seem to be ripplng across

  4. gpj103 November 6, 2016 / 5:21 am

    Lovely photos masking a worrying trend. Good post!

  5. Savithri Senanayake November 6, 2016 / 9:05 am

    Fall is a best time of the year for photos in the forest! Its been very warm in Paris too. Its cold today but with a beautiful Sun! 😍🌹🙋👋Have a great Sunday!
    Savi xx

    • Mark Miles November 9, 2016 / 3:34 am

      Thank you, Savi! It’s feeling like fall for the moment; but I’m just waiting for the next return of unseasonable weather, which will come in less than a week. Have a lovely Wednesday! 🍁😁🍁

  6. Firewaves21 November 6, 2016 / 4:35 pm

    I am most disheartened at the warming that is apparent everywhere. My favorite seasons are fall, winter, spring, I can mostly do entirely without summer. sighs….. Lovely photos.

    • Mark Miles November 9, 2016 / 3:35 am

      Thank you. I agree as well. I’ve always had a soft spot for the cool seasons, and their disruption saddens me in many ways.

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