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Forward thinking

Florida's autumn rustles in palm fronds

The best time of the year is at hand. Fall.

I hear what some of you are thinking. "Where are the colored leaves? Where is the frost? Where are the pumpkins and the apple cider?''

Sorry. Colored leaves, pumpkins, apple cider and frost happen in places where they have something called "autumn.''

In Florida, we have fall, and it begins today. It's not as highfalutin colorful as a Northern autumn but it's just as nice. All you need is to pay attention. Here are some ways to enjoy Florida in the fall.

Think cool. Fall in Florida is like spring in Northern states. We don't say, "Thank God. Soon I won't have to shovel any more snow.'' We say, "Thank heavens. Summer is almost over. Soon I can turn off the AC and step outside to pick up the paper without sweating.''

Watch the skies. Fall is happening overhead. The other day I saw my first bald eagle since May. They're already migrating from the Chesapeake Bay into our state. In October, I will begin watching for the white pelicans from Canada that spend their winters on Tampa Bay. In November, great flocks of sandhill cranes from the Midwest will take possession of pastures from Hillsborough to Alachua counties.

Go fish. If you know how to throw a cast net, you can catch yourself a nice mess of mullet in the fall. They're already starting to fatten up and school in our bayous and bays. If you have a seaworthy boat, go after king mackerel in the gulf. Every fall they swim past our shores in massive schools on their way south.

Eat well. In a few weeks, stone crab season opens. You can catch them in your own trap, though if the thought of a big crab snipping off your thumb with a massive claw scares you, buy supper. Dip your claw (remove shell before eating!) in melted butter if you must, though we Floridians like them served cold, with a mustard-mayonnaise sauce on the side.

Drink with purpose. I feel only pity for someone who has never enjoyed a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Oranges are only weeks away from being ripe for the picking.

Change your wardrobe. In the fall, I start wearing long pants, flannel shirts and even shoes again if only because I like to look good as I chop cords and cords of firewood for myself and all the neighbors. Winter is coming, you know.

Jeff Klinkenberg can be reached at klink@sptimes.com or (727) 892-8727.

Florida's autumn rustles in palm fronds 09/21/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 22, 2008 4:01pm]

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