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,
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.