Sunday, October 14, 2012

Signs of Fall~~Florida Style


A Gulf Coast autumn arrives quietly as if on silken cats' paws~~without exhuberant colors of leaf-turning and dramatic cold spells. One barely knows it's come. The only color changes (it's been said by humorists) are those on out-of-state license plates. But one sure sign of a Florida autumn is road construction~~winter tourists are on their way!
 
Nature's autumn doesn't turn up in Florida until November, the loveliest month of the year and the month of my birth. By November, we've turned off the air-conditioner and opened every window in the house. Seaspray scents the night air drifting through the jalousies above our sleeping heads. Hurricanes are forgotten, beautyberry bushes ripen, mowing slows, and the humidity drops to an easy-breezy level.
 
Bird migrations arrive to feast on shade-loving beautyberry bushes.
 
We can garden again!
 Cooler temps are perfect for planting cucumbers, kale, broccoli and lima beans.
 Swamp sunflowers open, Mexican sage blooms, pole beans and eggplants blossom.
 Bees are bizzzzzzy while flurries of butterflies flutter above milkweed nectar pots.
Our lemon tree is heavy with fruit again~~we're making lemon waters and seasoning fish filets.
Soon we can clip basil and cilantro for salads.
 
We're off to farmers' markets~~it's time to taste the fruit and squeeze the vegetables.
 We fill our sacks with honey/pear sweet corn,
 fresh-baked breads,
kumquats,
 stone crabs,
 and fresh Florida citrus.
 
When the summer rains stop, our green lawns turn a dusty color and palm trees begin to drop their fronds.
Trick-or-treaters look like those up north but they often sweat under heavy costumes.
Slowly, but surely, the "ember" months burn down to the end of the year and Christmas comes around again. I'm always stung by the gaud-awful glitter of a tinsel-y, snowless Florida Christmas. The only decor that ever makes sense to me is the Live Nativity re-enacted each year on a bit of landscape surrounded by palm trees. No camels carry the wise men to this crib, though~~they ride slowly about the scene on horses while Mother Mary hovers over her child and a choir of angels sings carols.
 
The new year signals a SNOWBIRD ALERT.
We're all eyes as they filter in, filling the streets with cars from other states,
 reconnecting with families and friends for warm-weather fun.
Restaurants are filled, beaches sport colorful set-ups,
and shopkeepers think they're in heaven.
 
All winter, I'm  out with my camera.
Looking to see what I can see.
As Mark Twain says, anything can happen today.
 
 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Living Room Makeover

BEFORE our living room makeover last winter,
 guests walked in and exclaimed about the colors,
 saying it reminded them of Miami Beach style.
OK, that works...we live in Florida most of the year.
 
 
...and BEFORE our 15-year-old lime-green leather recliner's
mechanicals broke down, we were content with the room.

 
 
 
About the same time, Cedric, our double chaise, covered in comfortable purple chenille,
had faded. We decided to make over the room and shift things around the house.
The lime-green sleeper sofa and polka-dot area rug went to the lanai,
 the lime-green recliner, rigged in a stationary position,
 went to a guest bedroom, and ReStore (Habitat for Humanity)
picked up our Techline office unit, two 1970s end tables, and Cedric for resale.
 
 
AFTER the room was cleared, I shopped for American-made seating pieces.
 Once again, I was disappointed in the large scale of it.
BIG American furniture has always been a problem for those of  us with
 small, cottage-size spaces built shortly after WWII.
 
 
Going for a lime-green, white and gray color scheme
inspired by the gray/white area rugs found at IKEA,
I painted out the violet section on the striped walls with a color called Pistachio
and brought in smaller-scale seating for six.
  
 
 
 An unexpected bit of serendipity turned up when we laid two area rugs together
 and their designs matched at the center of the room!
It created symmetry and a larger carpeted area to anchor the seating.
 
Too bad about the black box in an otherwise serene scheme~~I try
 to think of television as a hearth, the fire around which we gather together.
Like accepting a Kindle as a book with pages to turn with our hands.
 
 
 
 With the hot pink and purple gone, it's a quieter room~~like still water with a squeeze of lime.


We loved the BEFORE as much as we love the AFTER,
 the room, no doubt, reflecting the changes in us, body and soul.
Less energetic and colorful than we were 15 years ago,
 we're quieter and more reflective these days.