The Fantasy of Fall in Florida
Somehow “autumn” does not seem properly used in Florida. There is a connotation in the word of flaming color, of sharp change, of hoar frost heavy on cornfields, of all of northern harvest. The sub-tropical fall is so impalpable, so much a protraction of summer, pendulous before the time of winter fruiting, that we might almost say that we have no such season. As with spring, we change our habits not so much in relation to a calendar month, as according to the storms, which are only relatively equinoctial. Our summer temperatures are seldom extreme, never reaching the 100’s and above as elsewhere in the country. But when the summer rains have ended, we sometimes have a temperature maintained in the 80’s for many weeks, and the steadiness, through August and perhaps all of September and even into October, becomes wearing like the ancient torture of the dropping of water on the head. The sky is a glaring blue, too blue and cloudless, the redbirds no longer sing, the rank summer vegetation turns, sere, and the sun goes down in a burning ball.
The sand is powder and a fine dust rises from it and coats the roadside bushes. In a temperate climate, this would be a part of summer. Here, it means summer’s end. Even the sturdy zinnias curl and shrivel. The pecan trees, water-loving, draw up within themselves and their pointed leaves are crisp. At this time, flocks of diminutive drab birds sift into the pecan trees, and cling there like dead leaves blown by a dry wind. The palm fronds are without luster. The doves mourn plaintively and the sound is tiresome. (309-310)
The second week in September I gamble on the season and plant most of my seed-beds.
Excerpt from “Fall” Chapter 20, Cross Creek a writer’s journey by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Rawlings’ description is very much like how I experience fall. Where I live in Jacksonville located about an hour and a half drive north of Cross Creek, our air conditioners relax. We don’t usually wear sweaters or jackets until late December or early January. Our vegetation is still lush because of the rains or hurricanes, not usually “sere,” as Rawlings depicts in her perception of fall at Cross Creek.
Fall in Jacksonville, late December
A “Real” Fall: Autumn by Bliss Carmen
Now when the time of fruit and grain is come
When apples hang above the orchard wall,
And from the tangle by the roadside stream
A scent of wild grapes fills the racy air,
Comes Autumn with her sunburnt caravan,
Like a long gypsy train with trappings gay
And tattered colors of the Orient,
Moving slow-footed through the dreamy hills.
The woods of Wilton at her coming wear
Tints of Bokhara and of Samarcand;
The maples glow with their Pompeian red,
The hickories with burnt Etruscan gold;
And while the crickets fife along her march,
Behind her banners burns the crimson sun.
A golden oak in Pennsylvania, near my childhood home
*** To my friends in the southern hemisphere: Happy Spring!
Good morning, Marian. Lovely descriptions from Rawlings.
As you see in my photos, autumn is much like where you grew up (only flatter 😏). The trees are turning gold and red now, though they haven’t all changed yet. This week we are having beautiful weather with cool nights (45F when I woke up) and sunny days in the low 70s. That won’t last!
I saw a quote recently that sums up your experience–and mine as a child: “Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” I’ve lived in Florida so long, I hardly miss it anymore except in a nostalgic way. I do enjoy your pics and poetry documenting the season. Today, I woke up to 74 degrees, warming up to 82. A cold front should move in tomorrow, pushing the temps down. Thanks for priming the pump again today, Merril! 😀
You’re welcome, Marian!
Rawling’s writings here are as stunning as fall in the Shenandoah Valley! And though I only lived in north Fla. one year through the winter, I remember how different fall was from Indiana, which went through its fall season into winter way too quickly. It was hot, then pretty, then boom, freezing and blizzardly. However, my husband loves to tell how frozen he was at our place the December/Christmas we were engaged and not married yet, and he had to sleep in a travel trailer in the yard by himself, with no heat. And our house not much warmer, with thin insulation…. My thoughts/memories.
A frozen fiance, that’s quite an anecdote. I’m sure the Shenandoah Valley is brimming with color now. Maybe I can enjoy it next fall when our EMU class meets for another reunion.
I agree, Melodie, Rawlings’ writing is superb! 😀
I love the Fall colours and especially when I see the leaves on trees changing. Thank you for sharing the pictures. Your apples look delicious.
All the best.
Thanks, Pat, for tuning in from Germany, where I suppose you have beautiful foliage. Some close relatives on their way to Italy had a stop-over in Munich, where they had a hearty breakfast. All best to you as well! 😀
Such beautiful descriptions of my favorite season, Marian! Fall in the Midwest is all about color. The leaves are finally changing colors. Last week we had one day where the temp was 41 degrees. After that the temperature returned to the 60s. But the trees are lovely. Mostly green, but edging toward gold and red.
Your description makes me feel wistful about missing the brilliant colors. The cold snap probably has triggered the trees to turn color, or so I believe.
Rawlings’ writing is stunning; I’m glad you enjoy it! 😀
In the first week of August, there is a slight shift in the air, a scent of dying wildflowers that signals the end of summer is near. In September, the leaves start turning with Indian summer. In October, the weather gets colders, and we get the full fall foliage with red, gold, and orange. When I Iived in Florida, I was so homesick for the four seasons, my body ached with it.
I felt the same way when we lived in Florida, Liz.
I meant to add how much I like your traffic light apples!
When I bought fall apples, two were the perfect red and yellow needed for the display. I couldn’t find a green apple, so I substituted with an artificial one. You probably didn’t detect the difference, Liz. Ha! 😀
I love the crisp and cool mornings. After months of high humidity, I’m ready for a change, but I don’t like the thought of what’s around the corner with colder temperatures. Of course, I miss our hummingbirds. That oak is magnificent!
You may have read the line “Autumn, the year’s last loveliest smile,” that sums up our feeling about the fall season. I know you dread winter, but I recall when I lived in Charlotte one year, the weather felt mild compared to Pennsylvania.
I don’t know how far hummingbirds travel, but my feeder is full of nectar, if they make it that far south. Thanks, Jill! 😀
Sadly, we saw our last hummie last week. We did see a hummingbird moth two evenings ago. That was a treat!
Marian — The photos you shared of the autumnal color in your neck of the woods are lovely. Mother Nature is just beginning to tease us with vibrant-colored leaves in southern Idaho.
Laurie, you have a lot to look forward to, a fall much like I remember in Pennsylvania. And you have eyes to enjoy it, and language to describe it. Thank you!
We don’t think about the seasons much. We just want to stay warm in the winters and comfortable in the summers. Until recently, we did quite well other than being a bit chilly in winter, unless we are in Florida or Mexico.
The issue has been this last summer, during which we were often uncomfortably hot. Here in Texas, it is still hot and humid now and we can’t shake the uncomfortable summer season yet, unfortunately. But we have to stop driving to find reprieve as we’ve done enough of that the last six months. No fall in the Houston area yet!
One of the perks of roaming about is being able to choose your season. It’s warm and humid in Florida now, but a cold front should be moving in tomorrow.
I hope you have a little time to catch your breath; you and Mark have been pushing very hard. Here’s to safe travels and better temps, Liesbet! 😀
We don’t really have an autumn here in Spain either. It is pleasant weather until January and then it cools down a bit. I did enjoy visiting Canada and seeing the leaves change colour. I will never miss the snow though. I love your apples lined up like a set of traffic lights!
Darlene, I’m glad you could linger long enough in Canada to enjoy the pretty leaves. Thanks for noticing the lined up apple display. It was fun putting it together on a whim! 😀
We enjoy a beautiful autumn with many colours and, this year, mild temperatures.It’s a bittersweet season in some ways because we know cold weather is right around the corner—especially once we get to Saskatchewan where winter is especially harsh. Meanwhile, I’m soaking up the beauty of the season.
Thanks, Linda, for taking the time to comment here. I know you are moving to another Canadian province, and I’m not sure where you are in the process. Soak up all the beauty you can behold. 😀
Your post made me think of the Shel Silverstein poem, Changin’ of the Seasons https://www.streetdirectory.com/lyricadvisor/song/wajjle/changin_of_the_seasons/
I used to live in the Dakotas which had a very distinct and dramatic change in the seasons. On the northern California coast where we live now, the changes are far more subtle as temperatures typically stay in the moderate range year round. There is a definite nip in the air this morning, though.
Shel Silverstein’s name came up in the link. I know him as the author of beloved children’s books like Falling Up and Light in the Attic. I did not know he wrote song lyrics too. Thanks for adding to the conversation here, Pete. 😀
Your traffic signal apples made me smile. I know I’ve been to FL in the fall and it is different than up north. I experience fall with glorious colorful leaves that fall from trees and need to be raked– and an endless attempt by stink bugs to infiltrate our house for the winter. The usual!
One of the downsides of fall in Florida is leaves. If you have oak trees on your property (we have four), thousands of leaves fall brown and brittle on our driveway from October through March or April. Thanks, Ally!
Ha! I smiled to see your traffic light made out of apples. I’ll have to remember that one for Lydia’s next visit. You know well the autumn in Pennsylvania. We passed Bossler’s church some days ago, and I thought of you. Colors here are starting. Not yet peak time, as they were in Virginia.
Lydia will enjoy arranging the apples. As I tap these words, I’m not sure that the red goes on the top. It may be reversed. Amber is most certainly in the middle.
I feel a little ache of homesickness reading about Bossler’s Church. I haven’t been back for years. It’s time for a visit. Thanks, Shirley! 😀
Here in south Florida, we can see all four seasons at once in the surrounding foliage, usually during late December through February. Our summers are milder than most of the country (a well-kept Florida secret, until now), but they’re long, stretching well into late October, early November most years and starting up again in March.
Seasons are measured in humidity, with Fall/Winter giving us the joy of keeping all our windows open for refreshing breezes. We have scattered cold days, in the 40s and 50s, which count as our winter. Some years, you can count winter days on one hand, but most days begin with crisp, cool mornings from late November through most of February. I’ve had enough snow to last a lifetime, and do not miss northern winters at all. Driving up to see Autumn foliage is a treat to be savored with family visits. I love your traffic signal apples, Marian, and your fall foliage photos.
Your south Florida seasons summarize pretty well our experience in northeast Florida, especially measuring seasons by humidity. Today is humid, but I think a cold front will move in tomorrow, so the temps will probably drop 10-15 degrees, and the air will feel drier. Bring it on, I say.
I appreciate your commenting, Patty. Thank you! 😀
Autumn here is gold and orange, the moon a ball of fire, beside it Jupiter in glittering silver, the lake aflame, geese honking above, slowly settling, black dots on flaming gold!
Elfrieda, I think you have just written a poem. Your words have brilliant color and rhythm. Thanks for expressing fall in Manitoba. Love this! 😀
What beautiful words and so fitting for such a unique State! Gorgeous looking apples too!
Happy to see you here, Maria Fatima! I’m glad you appreciate. 😀
Thanks for that lovely autumn tour where you live Marian. Autumn is my favorite time of year. Our Maple Leaf trees are just turning red in many places, and other parts right in the city, the leaves have begun to fall. Love the temps, the coziness, and back to making soups. <3
Oh, Debby, coziness is threaded all the way through your comment here. Unless I travel about 300 miles north, I won’t get to see the loveliness you describe. Enjoy those red maples especially! 😀
Thank you my friend. 🙂
Fall is my favorite season of the year. These past few days have been perfect – warm and sunny with a nice breeze and falling leaves. Your apples do look like a traffic signal!
Enjoy the great weather for me. Florida is still humid. I remember looking out my bedroom window as a young girl and seeing the flaming maple tree. Thanks, Barbara! 😀
That’s a beautiful sight!
What beautiful prose and sensory fullness in Rawlings description of fall in Florida, Marian. And a lovely poem from Carmen. My cousins live in Jacksonville and I didn’t know the leaves changed there! Learn something new every day. <3
Diana, the change is subtle and not usually visible until after Christmas. If you get to visit your cousins, you’re welcome to knock on my door on the city’s Southside. Yes, Rawlings’ prose is powerful. I’m glad you enjoy it. 😀
I was just down there a couple of years ago, but suspect I’ll be there again someday.
Your traffic signal apples are very clever Marian! I’ve been in Florida for 7 years and I still miss a “true” fall. It is nice that my son and his wife live up north, so I can certainly visit to to feel a welcome chill in the air and turn in any direction to see layers of red and yellow trees. I did see a farm stand here selling pumpkins the other day! That made me feel good. 🙂 Thanks for putting me in a fall mood!
Your remarks poke my nostalgic button for sure. I grew up with regular seasons, including autumn with riotous color. I guess writing about it fills part of the void.
All over our city, church groups are selling pumpkins. Maybe they come from the central part of north Florida, where there’s lots of farming, which we discovered driving to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ house.
It’s good to hear that this piece put you in a fall mood. Thanks, Melanie! 😀
Hi Marian, this is such a lovely post. I do like the colours of autumn although I don’t like the fact the autumn precedes winter.
“Comes Autumn with her sunburnt caravan,
Like a long gypsy train with trappings gay
And tattered colors of the Orient,:
What amazing lines. I am delighted by them.
I discovered Bliss Carmen’s poetry just this year. Her flow of words is delightful, I agree. Thanks, Robbie! 😀
Alas like you Marian we don’t get a true autumn here its too tropical…love your apple arrangement and I didn’t notice the apple not an apple-smile-
Thanks, Marian, for this lovely autumn reflection. So many things to comment upon — your apple stoplight, the glorious tree in PA, the poem, the thoughts from Cross Creek (the same name as our development we lived in when we first moved to OR), and more.
Life with the Meyers hasn’t been focused on the colors of autumn yet because we’re still in the 80s daily but with a strong promise of rain beginning this next weekend. We’re hopeful; everything is so dry. We’ve been pretty much housed in since Bob’s surgery in mid-September. Hoping for a good appointment on Monday with his surgeon. Hello to Cliff and hugs to you!
Thanks for your update here. I appreciate it and will alert Cliff to your comment. I’m happy to hear Bob is on the other side of surgery. We’ll all hope for a good report from the doctor on Monday.
About the weather: We’ve had temps in the 80s for over a month now, but the last two nights the thermometer dropped into the 40s and the heat has come on. I brought in my ferns from the lanai. It’ll warm up again though. Yes, I do hope you get rain in your neck of the woods. Take care, Sherrey! 😀