Many of my northern transplant friends bemoan the fact that Florida has no changing of the leaves, no tell-tale signs of the seasons. Well, I beg to differ! While we don’t have the ravishing rainbow of colors sweep across our trees that the New England states have, we do have subtle changes that let us know when October is arriving.
No, I am not talking about the 90+ degree weather we’ve been having, or even the coldfront that just arrived, but rather the signs that any native Floridian or long-term resident has learned over the years:
1) The slanting of the sunlight. The color of our afternoons is actually different in fall. With the southern retreat of the sun, the shadows seem longer, the air more orange, and a spectrum of burnt hues cover our landscape. I love sitting out late afternoons taking in our breathtaking scenery. And fall sunsets have won their share of the Atmospheric Oscars for their dramatic showings!
2) The clouds. I once read where Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas countered a friend’s complaint about Florida being so flat with, “The clouds are Florida’s mountains” or something to the effect. This couldn’t be more true and the fall season seems to showcase them! When the cool fronts move through, the mountains are on parade! And with the drier season coming featuring those days when there’s only an isolated thunderstorm in the distance, a humongous snowy mountain peak is created that rivals anything Colorado has to offer. I can picture myself skiing down a long green or fun blue as perfectly packed snow swishes this way and that.
3) Frisky animals. Once a cool front is ushered in to Central Florida, just watch the animals, domestic or wild. Squirrels will scamper noisily, chasing each other. Jays will swoosh around briskly. My elderly Weimaraner decides he’s three again, and charges around the backyard with my ever excitable Yorkie. My cats wrestle and tumble over each other on the pool deck. (And when I am teaching, even the kids are frisky on cooler days!)
4) Greener yards. Unlike our neighbors to the north whose yards begin to brown with the cold, we see out landscapes return to green as the scorching heat subsides at last. Lawns recover, annuals droop less, trees survive. So couple that with our beautiful southern sunlight, and the greenery just shines in the lushness for which Florida is known.
5) Bikers. With Daytona Beach within close proximity, there are always bikers, but the cooler weather promotes not only biking, but all sorts of outdoor activities. We see more runners, cyclists, walkers, hikers, etc. Just people itching to get outdoors in weather that doesn’t melt them! And, with Biketoberfest in full effect, the bikers are definitely a sign that fall is here.
6) Fall imports. Okay, so even here in Florida we love the images that evoke the writings of Washington Irving: pumpkins and squashes, dark green and red cabbages, cinnamon brooms and wreaths of colorful dried maple leaves, candied apples… And where do you find such fare? At a local farmer’s market, of course! Any Saturday (and even now Sunday) morning we can grab a steaming hot Starbucks and then wander through a bountiful selection of such traditional fall items and make believe we are visiting one of those quaint, sleepy towns bordering the Hudson River. But, fast forward several weeks later when their snow needs shovelling and windshields need scraping, we are still right here in Florida, putting on shorts and a light sweatshirt. (Advantage: Florida.)
So, please don’t groan about missing the changing of the leaves or the first snowfall of the year. Instead begin to look for those subtle signs that fall has arrived. And, of course, this cool Saturday morning air certainly helps!