Florida “seasons” take many forms. Beach season, lobster season, snow-bird season, and those two days we’re cold. Many think we bypass fall and winter all together because we don’t have the painted leaves of the Smokey Mountains or the fluffy white landscapes of the mid-west. But I’m here to tell ya, fall is in full swing here in Florida and, as usual, I’m loving it.
The First Day of Fall was September 22, so I’m almost a month late, but I needed our first “cold-snap” to head our way before I could get out of this summer rut. (Or into rut if you’re heading out hunting soon). Where I’m at, we’re expecting a high of 69 degrees Sunday. SIXTY-NINE DEGREES, Y’ALL! I can finally jump on the Sweater Weather train without having to wear a back-up tank top under my sweater tunic. Woo-hoo! But as much as we Floridians are enjoying a break from feeling like we stuck our head in the dryer half-way through the cycle, there have been indicators that fall is upon us for weeks now.
My childhood home has always had the most accurate signal of the impending change – A Golden Rain Tree. Every year, when fall is heading our way, these bunches of tiny yellow flowers appear. And then the buzzing begins. Even if I didn’t look up all year and had no idea the flowers were bloomed, I could hear it. Hundreds of bees show up and the tree sounds like a hybrid car.
As as kid, I knew this meant summer was coming to an end. Mainly because I had no choice. During summer, on the hottest of days, my dad would set out that sprinkler and I would come busting out of that front door like a bikini-clad Kool-Aid Man and run in the water for hours. That became hard to do when the tree started its change. Golden Rain Trees are called this for a reason, people. Those yellow flowers come down like snow…and the bees follow.
YOU try running through a yard, bare foot, with a bunch of bees trying to do their pollinating-thing all over the ground but they’re pissed that you’re raining on their parade. Yeah, not fun.
And while those yellow flowers are beautiful on the tree, they pile up on your roof, your driveway, your cars. They get stuck in everything, including your hair. And once those are gone…FALL IS HERE! Also, the tree gets these weird pink seed pods that were fun to pop open.
Still to this day, I know when I show up at my parents’ house and my dad is grumbling about blowing the “yellow snow” off the roof, my favorite time of the year is upon us. The pumpkin patches and corn mazes start popping up. (Yes, we have corn mazes in Florida, too!). We bust out our fall decor and spread that junk ALL OVER THE HOUSE. Tastefully, of course. Pumpkin Spice everything appears. And I can start baking again because people don’t care about their bikini bodies anymore.
Now, Halloween has passed and the weather is changing. We’re finally starting to cool down.Yes, the Florida as you all may know it, is slowly fading. The nights are cooler, the grass isn’t as green, and the cypress trees are dropping their needles to make way for a blanket of Spanish moss.
One of my favorite things to do at this time of the year is lay in the grass in my parents’ backyard, surrounded by cypress trees. While most notable for their appearance in the Florida swamps and their thousands of knees poking up throughout the murky waters, they have a certain calming nature about them in the fall. Towering above, the whole tree swayin’ and moss blowin’ in breeze. They bend so far you wonder how they don’t snap clear in half. (And you don’t get attacked by half as many bugs as your would in the summer laying out there, so that’s a plus.)
So, while we may not look like the rolling red and orange mountains of Tennessee, Florida does have its apparent change in seasons. You just have to know what to look for, but when you find it, it has this native beauty that anyone should appreciate. And if you’re having trouble finding those signs, follow the flickering glow at the end of the road. Because in my world, this is BONFIRE SEASON, y’all!