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CW Journal : Autumn 10 : Ninety Delightful Days and More

Ninety Delightful Days and More

Autumnal Equinox to Winter Solstice and Beyond, Colonial Williamsburg is a Sight to See


At 11:09 pm Eastern Daylight time on September 22, the center of our sun crossed the plane of earth’s equator, headed south, and with that annual astronomical passage, an equinox, autumn began. Northern Hemisphere nights slowly lengthened, temperatures gradually moderated, geese honked down the flyways, children tricked or treated, squirrels cached acorns, politicians prepared to pardon turkeys, and Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area slipped into its fall finery.

Up and down the ancient streets and avenues, at this season trees outfit themselves in yellow and scarlet, orange and russet, brown and gold, and, every few years, with a mantle of fresh-fallen snow. As days shorten, costumed men and women throw on their woolen capes, and the folks who live and labor in the eighteenth-century homes, shops, stores, taverns, and public buildings fashion wreaths and sprays, ropes and swags, to decorate their fireplaces, windows, fences, and doors. They’ll be done for Grand Illumination—it begins this year at 4:45 PM, December 5—when music seasons the evening, candles light the windows, and fireworks rattle the sky.

The celebrations of the season’s holidays have hardly started, however, and they’ll last weeks beyond the onset of winter. At 6:38 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, December 21, the solstice sun drops farthest below the equator. Ninety delightful autumn days have passed, yet Christmas is still to come, and even unto New Year’s the Colonial Williamsburg calendar is chock-a-block with programs and events, tours and ceremonies, as well as sights and sounds to savor. Hang around long enough and you may well see more snow. In the meantime, sample this photo essay, assembled from the annual work of Colonial Williamsburg photographers, on the attractions of those times.

—Alexander Chesterfield