Fall in the Northern Hemisphere officially starts at 9:54 p.m. EDT on Saturday, September 22, 2018.
Fall is a Transition All Over the Planet
September 22 is an equinox, meaning “equal night,” because day and night will be the same length on that day, no matter where you live on the planet. From that point on, the tilt of the earth will put one hemisphere further from the sun for six months — reaching maximum tilt at the solstice and then heading back towards the next equinox.
Autumn means we are the hemisphere tilting away. Our days will get shorter, temps get colder, and traveling further north will mean it gets darker. If you live south of the equator, it will all be just the opposite.
Seasonal changes are something we all notice, so they can be good reminders. For those who want to “do something”:
A change of season is the perfect time to schedule a day of service.
Seasonal efforts can be a welcome relief to those overwhelmed by difficult circumstances. And they can be do-able in our lives, since we are limiting our current commitment to a single task that may not come up again for another year.
Several blessings are perfect for the fall. Many of these things you are doing already at your house. By taking them one step further, they can become blessings to those around you as well.
Yard clean-up is a blessing often mentioned but rarely carried out. In fact, I wonder if yardwork doesn’t happen primarily because there is the appearance of so many offers, leading everyone to think it’s all taken care of.
There are many possible reasons yardwork gets put aside, even when there are offers made with the best of intentions.
- Ever-Changing: The need for yardwork is variable, making it difficult to plan.
- Unclear: It’s never quite clear when the best time for raking or mowing or weeding arrives. Have all the leaves have dropped from the trees yet? Have all the snowflakes finished falling from the sky?
- Busy Time of Year: At basically the exact time that your someone needs help with this, you are likely to be out in your own yard, taking care of your own responsibilities.
- Lack of Confidence: If you don’t have a yard yourself, you may not feel confident taking care of outdoor needs.
- Worry about offending: Lastly, you might worry that doing a daily task for someone who potentially could do that task himself will imply that your someone isn’t taking care of his responsibilities or is hopelessly ill. I was blessed even more than my husband when the occasional neighbor stealthily moved into our yard after their own yard was complete, not causing Shane to suspect that our yard was getting spiffed up as well. Another time, my husband’s coworker performed a day of backyard beautifying while we were out at a doctor appointment, avoiding any awkwardness.
Maybe you or your family could find time to pitch in on someone’s yardwork this fall — mowing, raking, weeding, cleaning the gutters or window wells, maybe later shoveling snow. Add a leaf pile for jumping, throw in a few camera shots of colorful leaves, and you can create a memorable fall day for everyone.
B: Fall Clean-up
Like spring cleaning and new year’s resolutions, fall can trigger preparations for the next half of the year. As the home gets closed up for the winter, getting rid of dirt and dust can provide a fresh outlook and might even improve breathing and reduce allergens.
Try offering one day’s spiff-up. In particular, you might give some attention to areas none of us get around to often enough:
- Wash windows, inside and/or outside
- Wipe down blinds or launder curtains
- Reach up to dust the top of everything
- Pull out furniture for a thorough vacuuming
- Use a vacuum hose or bottle brush in heating and drier vents
- Replace the furnace filter
- Consider batteries for smoke detectors and/or CO2 alarms
C: Fall Change-over
In the Northern Hemisphere, the spring/summer wardrobe will need to be transitioned to fall/winter things. Shorts and sandals can be washed, folded, and packed up for the winter. A Rubbermaid box could be labeled “out of season” and switched out twice a year.
If your someone’s size or physical challenges have changed, then you may want to go through the winter/fall things together.
- It might be that button-up shirts will no longer work with arthritis of the hands.
- Or, button-up shirts may now work best because a shoulder injury makes it impossible to get into other shirts.
There were years when I would hold up each item for my husband to nod or frown, creating a pile of usable clothes and making him aware of what was available.
For those of us who live a ways north of the Equator, warmer blankets and flannel sheets can come out of closets. If a change of sheets is due, you can just go ahead and put those on now, perhaps washing, folding, and storing away the summer bedding.
Ensure a favorite cozy spot is updated for winter. Find any throw pillows and lap blankets that may have been put away for the summer. Move a reading lamp nearby, for darker evenings, if available.
D: The Car, Garage, Outdoor Equipment
At our house, fall involves bringing in cushions from outdoor chairs, moving yard toys and grills into the shed or onto the patio, pulling storm windows down over summer screens, and packing the car trunk with an ice scraper and blanket.
A garage change-over might also be in order, moving gardening tools to the back of the garage, bringing forward rakes and snow shovels, putting ice-melt and antifreeze within reach.
Those handy with tools might drain lawnmower gas and do other end-of-season maintenance — something that never got done at my house after my husband was gone, because I simply didn’t know it was a thing. If there are young people in the family, consider offering to teach them these skills.
A final touch might be a car vacuuming, garage sweep-out, and/or wet-vac once-over.
E: Holiday Prep
Thanksgiving-time is perfect for a day of service. You might play seasonal music and chat while you put up the Christmas tree or prepare the home for the holiday season — maybe pull out favorite recipes and larger-scale cooking pots, take stock of baking supplies on hand in preparation for the seasonal sale prices, move folding chairs and tray tables into accessible areas, or dig out a favorite holiday outfit and make sure it’s ironed.
Holiday shopping is another seasonal blessing for those who are ill or stressed. You could brainstorm together, planning gifts for family, caregivers, and others. Or, tag along as the companion or even the chauffeur on shopping trips. Some might even need you to be the “Santa’s helper” who does the shopping yourself, and you might wrap during your next visit. In some cases, you might teach a homebound person to shop online.
F: Plan For Colds & Flu
Your focus might switch to disinfecting the home as the cold and flu season approaches.
- Change up towels in the kitchen and bath
- Switch out pillow cases
- Disinfect sinks and counters
- Refill soap dispensers
- Start over with fresh water cups, water pitchers, or water bottles
- If there is illness in the home, you might even wipe down things like telephones, doorknobs, toothbrushes, and holders with something antiseptic like alcohol.
When we were doing dialysis at home, I also got in the habit of splurging on disinfecting wipes to leave out for quick wipe-downs. There are “green” product lines and homemade cleaners, if you like options.
Just One Day
Spending a fall day out doing something you’ve had on your mind: What could be better?
A perfect one-and-done opportunity to bless someone.
Blog #18, COMMENT BELOW: Is there a fall task that has blessed you?