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Mercury plummets mark as autumn arrives
fall pic two
A smiling Edmundo Blanco arranges the colorful and lip-smacking ripe watermelons at the produce stand on Woodward Avenue at Van Ryn Avenue. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin

Jeannie Albers knows when summer is over and fall is about to begin.

Summer’s staple fruits like peaches, nectarines, and apricots begin to dwindle from the small roadside produce stand that she and husband Larry has set up in front of their large garden on Woodward Avenue.

“Pretty soon, they will be gone in three weeks. And the watermelons – that will be gone pretty soon, too,” she said as she deadheaded the roses in her front yard. The diminishing blossoms that were a riot of colors in the spring and early summer are also visible signs that the hot weather is about to give way to the valley’s chilly fall weather.

While today is the first full day of autumn, the season actually started at 1:44 p.m. Sunday when the su reached the fall equinox. While the season between summer and winter in the valley does not immediately and dramatically translate into Vermont-like or a la Sierra foothills palate of fall colors, there are several palpable signs that autumn is knocking on the weather vane’s door.

The mercury plunges down to below the century mark. That’s pretty evident to valley residents who put up with sizzling three-digit temperatures through summer. The atmosphere in these parts of South San Joaquin shows swirling films of dust from the hectic harvest going on in the almond and walnut orchards. The sun at dusk turns into a bright and big celestial orange. And pomegranate trees are dotted with vivid red hues. And churches like St. Anthony of Padua in Manteca, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Lathrop, and the Good Shepherd Mission Church in French Camp get busy with their biggest extravaganzas during the year – their harvest festivals.

One of them, at St. Anthony of Padua in Manteca, is actually celebrated as the calendar rolled into the first day of autumn this year on Sunday, the second day of their harvest festival’s weekend celebration.