Armchair Peregrinations

October 11, 1998

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun

So begin the first lines of Keats' poem "To Autumn", and one that I've returned to over the years. This weekend in Charleston has seemed very much like Fall, cool and windy, and, today, a perfectly blue sky, the likes of which we haven't seen in a while.

On the beach yesterday, the outward trappings showed summer still holding sway -- people sunning, surfers surfing, waders and swimmers taking advantage of our prolonged summer. But sitting on the beach with a book, I felt that slight, ever so subtle coolness, even though it was still only about 3:30. I think Autumn is here. I'm glad. I even bought a flannel shirt later that afternoon, one of my signposts of the season each year.

Here are other signposts and memories of autumn:

-- the smell of burning leaves in the air, nowadays, mostly in the country because of city ordinances banning outdoor burning. Yes, you can see people raking leaves into piles and burning them. The astringent and wonderful smell brings such a flood of instant associations that I only wish I could be there in that yard, crunching leaves underfoot, maybe even jumping in a big pile of them like when I was a kid

-- the yellow blooms of cassia here in Charleston

-- Acorns

-- Windy weather

-- the State Fair and Coastal Carolina Fair

-- dry, cool weather and the ability to walk with energy and some gusto after the exhausting heat and humidity of the Southern summer just past

-- an emptying of the beaches so that I'm almost the only one out there at times

-- leaves changing to yellows and browns (no gold, flame-red, or orange hues here)

-- shorter days and the end of carefree trips to the beach after work

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