Faux Fall

I have heard rumors that fall, otherwise known as autumn, occurred this year. You would never know it in South Mississippi. Two weeks ago, our weatherman reported highs in the nineties. As I write this piece, the predicted high for today is 56°. Occasionally, we have years when we actually get some color in the leaves, but this is not the year. 

Searching for hints of fall is a spy’s operation. We do have the fall asters that demand to bloom at the proper time in all their purpleness regardless of the temperature. 

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The invasive autumn pink mums that Uncle Leo gave me as a passalong plant, also insists on spreading across the yard from the flower bed.

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One morning I will look out and a surprise lily has popped up. 

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Then there is the old reliable fall omen with a bad reputation. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have bad-mouthed the sweet gum tree to me. It seems they become weary of the spiky balls that fill the yard. (I remember, instead, the years of my youth when I covered them in tin foil, peeled from gum wrappers, to hang as ornaments on the Christmas tree.) But this time of year, I hold my sweet gum especially dear. It doesn’t seem to mind that the weather skips from the 90s to the 50s without a middle ground. It insists on turning its leaves a brilliant yellow as though there really was a fall or autumn that came to South Mississippi, strewing them freely on the summer green lawn. 

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Since fall is my favorite season, I can get a little touchy about this omission in spite of the efforts of the asters, mums, surprise lilies, and sweet gum. Then I remember a quote I keep bookmarked from Sarah of Sarah, Plain and Tall when she moves to the Midwest, knowing she will miss the sea in her beloved Maine, “There is always something to miss, no matter where you are.”