Feet upon the pedals
Moving down the road
Wheels are spinning faster
Cares are letting go.
Shivering in the shadows
Under live oak trees
Pendulums of dingy moss
Swaying in the breeze.
Riding through a clearing
Bright sun warms my face
Days are getting shorter
Time is hard to place.
Autumn is a toddler
Playing guessing games
Silent when a stranger
Wants to know his name.
Haven for the snowbirds
Flocking to the scene
Florida hums a simple tune
In the key of green.
I wrote the poem, “A Nameless Season” after biking around Lake Baldwin.
Like all Floridians, I look forward to the first serious cold front that arrives in October. Every year I celebrate the cooler temperatures with a bike ride. As I ride I look for natural signs of fall. The leaves on the trees are still as green as ever. Flowers are in bloom. Welcome to life in the sub-tropics.
Florida is located between twenty-five and thirty degrees north latitude. We experience more than eight months of temperatures greater than fifty degrees Farenheit. Florida has two seasons, summer and non-summer. Summer is rainy and hot. Non-summer is cool (comparitively speaking) and dry.
Even so, Floridians like to think our seasons follow the same four season calendar as the northern United States. In October, we decorate our porches with pumpkins, bales of hay, and yellow potted mums. We hang wreaths of orange and red leaves on our front doors. We do our best to create our own miniature replica of what fall is “supposed to be.”
As an educator, I tried to explain fall to my young students who were born in Florida or Puerto Rico. They didn’t get it. “What do you mean, the leaves change color? That seems impossible.” They knew when it was summer because that meant they were out of school. As far as fall goes, it’s a time when Halloween happens.
I miss the fall season I experienced in Ohio as a child. October brings back memories of jumping in piles of raked leaves and drinking apple cider. I miss Sunday drives through wooded hills ablaze with scarlet and gold.
Florida’s seasonal changes are subtle. The leaves of the Bald Cypress tree change from green to red. Even though the Bald Cypress has cones, these trees are deciduous. They lose their leaves in winter. (Which I think happens in January.)
Live oaks remain green practically year round. As soon as Live oaks lose their leaves in February, new leaves immediately appear. They change from dull green to bright green. I cannot rely on the Live oak to tell me if it’s fall.
Every time I see a Chinese Flame tree I think its leaves have changed color. Don’t be fooled.
What appear to be orange leaves, are actually seed pods.
Have spring and fall have merged into one nameless season? However confusing this time is, I revel in it. I’ll trade a few weeks of spectacular color for year round bike rides any day.