O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being

On July 12 when I rode my bike to Shirlington the wind was from the south at an average of 5 miles per hour.  Since then, over 7 ½ weeks, the wind has only been over one mph average velocity once; it has averaged zero (0) mph 13 of 20 times.  You could say that the summer air has been very still.  Hot, humid, and still.

Until today.  Today it averaged only 3 mph, but it was gusty out there, and the highest gust was 26 mph, a velocity last met or exceeded last March 31, when the month went out like a lion with 33 mph gusts.  That was the end of the equinoctial shift into summer.  Today’s gusts marked the start of the equinoctial shift into autumn.  TV meteorologists attributed the gusty winds to Hurricane Earl and/or the cold front that brought bright, coll, breezy conditions in the wake of another sting of 90° days.  Both wind sources probably played a role, but since these winds were due west, or even southwest, I doubt that Earl had much to do with it.  Earl was rolling up into the Maritime Provinces of Canada today, having wreaked little damage in New England beyond raining out the Sox game last night, and little damage here beyond some cool surf, dude, on the ocean beaches of the mid-Atlantic states.

Spring and fall are when it’s windy here.  I expect that the wild West Wind of today will indeed be the trumpet of a prophecy, that summer is over and autumn is here.  “Breath of Autumn’s being” indeed!  Shelley was looking for spring beyond the winter that was to follow autumn.  I’ll settle for the vision of autumn itself, replacing a truly wretched summer, allowing me at last to go riding at will without worrying about heat stroke or dehydration.  Let winter and next spring take care of themselves.

To compound the prophecy, I saw my first wooly bear caterpillar today.  These creatures are predictors of the severity of winter.  Folk say that when their red/brown stripe in the middle is broad, the winter will be mild.  When the stripe’s narrow, the winter will be severe.  My question is, what kind of winter will we have when the caterpillar is about 1/64″ thick and has bike tire tread marks from end to end? Because that’s how they usually are on the trail.

Hydration note:  I used the Lezyme hydration pack today.  I carried about two liters of water to Ashburn, a 39 mile ride.  All went well, and I liked being able to have all my resources–tools, energy bars, water–in one place.  Again, the hydration factor really mattered, because the wind and the sun take just as much body fluid; it simply evaporates more efficiently than in humid weather.  Love the added safety and comfort factors.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.

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