At 6:54 p.m. on Saturday, summer officially gave way to autumn. Time for a road trip, I thought. So at sunrise on this first day of the season, I hopped in my car and went looking for signs of Fall.
Theoretically, the seasonal shifts should be obvious. But here in Orange County, California, the changes are more subtle. Daylight hours grow gradually shorter, but the temperatures climb into upper 70s through at least October. Searing Santa Ana winds are far more common than rainfall.
Ice scrapers aren’t necessary in these parts. No umbrellas or woolen socks required. And still, you’ll find tell-tale signs of autumn almost everywhere–providing you know where and how to look. Pumpkin patches crop up everywhere, from abandoned lots to major intersections. Pumpkin spice lattes are a given. Knott’s Berry Farm transforms itself into Knott’s Scary Farm, and Disneyland hosts a frightfully fun Halloween party. But if you’re like me, you’ll probably enjoy the less commercial aspects of the season…
I found this pot of gold in a stand of sycamore trees. Mother Nature might wear a less-expansive color palette than you see elsewhere, but she’s well aware of her environment and knows how to dress for the occasion.
If you’re a reader, you’ll find an ample supply of autumn-themed books from which to choose. Grab your sunglasses, slide into your flip-flops, and carry a handful of favorites to your lounge chair by the pool. (At my elbow right now: Fear, by Bob Woodward, and Reese Witherspoon’s Whiskey in a Teacup.)
If you’re an out-of-stater, you might be rolling your eyes about now. Understood. If you’re not used to our mild, Mediterranean climate, you might need to adjust your views about how autumn “should” look and feel. But keep in mind that these images depict a singularly beautiful, blue-sky day in Fall, as viewed through the lens of a native Californian. The Golden State is different, and we own that.
The light slants low through our palm trees, now, casting longer (arguably more interesting) shadows.
Our gardens are vibrant, year-’round. Monarch butterflies, honeybees, and hummingbirds stay local, rather than migrating even further south. Given our temperate climate, who can blame them?
Here as elsewhere, apples are now ripe for the picking. Designer labels or no, these fruits are crisp, sweet and juicy, just like their rural counterparts. And homebaked apple pies…mmmm, always delicious!
Farther afield in my own sojourn, I encountered a fleur de l’agave. Faded by the summer sun, it clung to a rocky cliff above an emptied beach.
We might run the air conditioning until mid-November, but we’re a warm and friendly people. In my sojourns today, for instance, I came across this heart-tugging scene. A candy-corn kitty finally met his match, thanks to a local rescue organization. An auspicious beginning for autumn, don’t you think?
There’s something to be said for leaf peeping, flannel shirts, hot apple cider, and crackling fires, of course. But this…this is my version of paradise.