September 22 is our autumnal equinox. Fall arrives. Yes, East Coast friends and family, autumn in Tucson does happen. Leaves do change color. Witness the cottonwoods by the creek in Sabino Canyon. Golden.



Pick your own pumpkins and fruit and gawk at the huge sunflowers at Apple Annie’s in Wilcox.



Aspen trees in Arizona turn a brilliant sunshine-drenched yellow. Okay, so my photo is from Cedar Breaks, but it is just over the line in Utah.

Mornings around our house are greeted by “I think we can open up” meaning no A/C but some fresh cool morning air. Maybe the A/C goes back on in the afternoon when the thermometer rises to the high 90s or perilously close to 100°, but the house is open and airy for a few hours.

Clothing choice becomes fallish, a short-sleeved top as opposed to the thinnest sleeveless one I can find. When there’s a September or October day where the evening temps plummet to 60-65°, fashionistas break out the shawls, scarves, and long pants that would induce heat exhaustion in the tri-month heat blast that is summer. Flip-flops are still a staple for footwear; this is Tucson, after all.

The sun rises a little bit to the left of our bedroom window as the earth begins that tilt. And it sets just as brilliantly as in summer, but a few minutes earlier each night.

My friend Glenn tells me it’s time to think about cutting back on some plants, put in some new cactus, and reduce the irrigation time for the back patio plants.

Hikes and morning walks can be pushed to 7:00 or even 8:00 a.m. starting times – although there is something therapeutically calming about hiking at 6:00 a.m. when the sun is just starting to yawn and stretch up over the foothills. Temps drop to the 70s at night so metal fences and cement block walls cool down. Swimming pool and, for us, the “spool” (larger than a spa, smaller than a pool) water seems, dare I say it, cold when you first get in.

We live near Sabino High School so the sounds of football cheers and band practice drift our way. I watch with envy as girls and boys walk, jog, and run along the roads for cross country practice.

I find I can once again wear gold or silver necklaces outside without fear of neck burns from the summer heat. Additional staples are sunscreen and my insulated water bottle. The other staple is to keep my eyes open, to observe, and gather more “seeds” for my gardens of stories.

Enjoy autumn wherever you are!

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships.