September 23rd, 2006

Fall ritual: closing the windows

Today is the first day of fall.

I never quite get that date right, because it drifts around in confusing fashion (here’s a guidepost for those of you who care about such things). This year it also happens to be the beginning of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashana (Happy New Year!), which also drifts about with even wider variation, based on the lunar calendar.

I’ve always loved fall. In fact, it’s my favorite season, despite (or perhaps because of) its bittersweet qualities. It signals the end of spring and summer, the coming of winter and darkness. But it goes out in a blaze of glory, especially here in New England.

Why does the Jewish New Year begin in the fall? Actually–as I just learned through Google–it’s one of four Jewish New Years .

But let’s not complicate things too much; they’re complicated enough already. It was once explained to me–and I don’t know whether this is true or not–that, just as the Jewish day and all Jewish holidays begin in the darkness of sunset the night before, so the Jewish year begins in the darkness of fall, paralleling the Biblical account of the creation, where darkness preceded light. Whether true or not, it’s nicely poetic.

By the time fall comes to these parts it’s readily apparent that it’s actually been here for some time already. The nights have gotten cold, often in the forties, and the yearly struggle about turning on the heat begins. It’s a badge of honor in New England to be the last one to succumb to the terrible weakness of the need to be warm.

I’m not usually one of the final holdouts. But I do my best. I layer on the sweaters and the sweats as long as I can stand it.

Just yesterday I performed the ritual Closing of the Windows, the yin to the yang (or maybe vice-versa?) of the Opening of the Windows that occurs in late spring. Yes, my windows are all now firmly shut, probably not to opened again for many many months.

And yet the furnace is still set to “off.” But soon, soon. And then watch those heating bills soar–

A fellow New Englander, Robert Frost, had something to say about the matter:


Now close the windows and hush all the fields;
If the trees must, let them silently toss;
No bird is singing now, and if there is,
Be it my loss.

It will be long ere the marshes resume,
It will be long ere the earliest bird:
So close the windows and not hear the wind,
But see all wind-stirred.

11 Responses to “Fall ritual: closing the windows”

  1. Mark Says:

    It’s time to open the windows here in the South. We close them and turn on the AC in May or June. The AC stays on until Oct, but this year, the fresh coolness from Canada has arrived in Sept. Must be global warming. Mark

  2. guy Says:

    Ha! Thanks for that chart. I was just taking a walk in the dreary, cold rain and thinking, “man, so this is still summer?”

    I just shut all my windows here as well, but I refuse to stop wearing shorts and sandals till the snow flies.

  3. camojack Says:

    Coincidentally, I did close the windows today…

  4. rickl Says:

    In Pennsylvania, mine are still open; in fact today was actually quite muggy. But it’s been cool the last couple of weeks.

    I recently replaced the bedspread with the down comforter.

    guy: I’m the opposite. I’ll resort to sweaters and socks before closing the windows.

    Besides, I have the cats to consider. :)

  5. troutsky Says:

    The liberal mainstream press (Was.Post) is reporting on defense intelligence report that invasion of Iraq is increasing threat of terror! How dare they, what nonsense.Close your windows and duct tape them.Im going to see what Norm Geras has to say.

  6. Cappy Says:

    L’Shana Tova, neo. Enjoy the New Year.

  7. Foobarista Says:

    The wierd thing is that mid September through mid October is the warmest time of year in the SF Bay Area, where I live. Midsummer here is rarely above 80, and the weather is driven by fog and wind. (But if the wind shifts to the east, it can get enormously hot for a short time – we had a couple of days over 110 in July.)

    But consistently warm weather only happens around the equinoxes here…

  8. Senescent Wasp Says:

    fish, put a cork in it. A highly redacted, unconfirmed extract of an intelligence document written by partisan elements has been leaked to the fifth column near the elections. What part of partisan politics don’t you understand?

  9. goesh Says:

    -I’ll be mowing grass this afternoon, or tomorrow – leaves are far from turning

  10. Steve Rosenbach Says:

    Neo – what do you mean that “.. Rosh Hashana also drifts about…”

    It doesn’t drift a bit- it’s always on the 1st of Tishrei, every year!

    Shana Tova,

  11. Universal Life Church Says:

    Very nice way of thinking about the passing of the seasons. Thank you for the lovely post.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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