All the colors of fall

By E. Adam Porter

Editor in Chief, News of Sun City Center

Fall has arrived in Florida. Unlike other-wheres, you don’t just track Florida seasons by the change in the air or the colors of the leaves. Natives and longtime transplants know the drill. The Florida “colors of fall” are well represented by the arrival of Other Than Orange license plates as our snowbird friends arrive, escaping the imminent sleet and snow headed toward their Other Home.

The red, white and blue of Ohio and Alabama. The juicy peach from Georgia and the verdant green of Vermont. The Big Blue of Michigan, Wisconsin’s red, the deep blue of Indiana and Delaware. North Carolina’s ‘First Flight’. The ‘Last Frontier’ of Alaska (that’s a LONG trip), the rainbow of Hawaii (how did they drive here?), the tall trees of Oregon and South Carolina, the mountains of Colorado and the lakes of Minnesota. Illinois’ ‘Land of Lincoln’ and Kentucky’s thoroughbred. Maine’s ‘vacationland’ … though this native Floridian might have a bone to pick with that one. The yellow of New Jersey and New Hampshire’s ‘live free or die’ line in the sand chiseled in the granite of that Old Man up on the mountain. And those are just the ones I’ve seen already.

Friends, neighbors, clubs, groups – and definitely local businesses – celebrate these colors of fall cruising south. Here at the News of Sun City Center, our pages swell with all the activities and opportunities scheduled as clubs, sports and social groups ramp up for fall. While the traffic on 674 may be a bit thicker, the energy and atmosphere in the club rooms on the fields and courts, at the Rollins and Veterans Theaters and Community Hall make up for the relative inconvenience.

More than all of these colorful state tags, we will see the big bright orange of the Great Sunshine State. These markers represent folks who started out Somewhere Else, and, like a refreshing autumn breeze coming out of the north country, found a home here in the Sunshine. Welcome, folks. Let me introduce you to what Florida natives know as the colors of fall.

Yellows and greens of the early autumn squash, green and orange and red peppers. A diverse palette of wild flowers everywhere you look, like the Great Impressionists have been turned loose by the Chamber of Commerce to make every roadside ditch look like a post card. The deep blue of the sky that rivals anything you can find in Montana. The rich green of the grass folks up north won’t see again until May. The incandescent pastel blends of pink, purple and red as the sun sinks below the horizon after yet another perfect Gulf coast sunset. The signature spectrum of foamy greens kissing the shore as the tide rolls in. The sugary crème of the sand between your toes … and the reflection of all those shades on the water in the early morning. These are the colors of fall in Florida. Sure, we can cruise a few hours north to catch the fading leaves, but it’s these other colors that remind me why Here is the best place to be as summer gives way to fall.

We still have another several months of bright sunshiny beach days and golf days and blue skies where other folks will get naught but gray. As everyone else is dragging out parkas, we’re still pondering if it’s cool enough for full sleeves and long pants, still cruising up to the springs of Central Florida to swim in water so clear it looks like you can reach out and touch the bottom 15 feet away. Still buying sunscreen instead of snow boots. Sure, we’ll get our occasional burst of “cool” weather, and folks will break out the flannel and jeans, but give it a few days and we’ll be back in Bermuda shorts.  

Those are the colors and textures of fall in Florida. Growing up here meant taking that for granted, but not so much for granted as to wonder why y’all wanted to have it too.

Image By Qqqqqq [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons