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Welcome to the Autumnal Equinox

Maria is a master gardener and master of public health. She & her husband, known online as The Gardener & The Cook, live in coastal Alabama.

Ginkgo biloba trees are said to grow as far south as Zone 9, but I haven’t seen them here in Zone 8. I snapped this photo of their lovely fallen leaves on an October trip to northern Virginia a few years ago.

Ginkgo biloba trees are said to grow as far south as Zone 9, but I haven’t seen them here in Zone 8. I snapped this photo of their lovely fallen leaves on an October trip to northern Virginia a few years ago.

For a while now, the days have been growing noticeably shorter, and I found myself eagerly awaiting autumn. It’s finally here! Well, in the northern hemisphere, anyway.

Today, September 22, 2021, is the Autumnal Equinox — the first day of autumn: the day the days and nights are almost exactly the same length, 12 hours each. Of course, in the southern hemisphere, today is the first day of spring — the Vernal Equinox.

Our Leaves Haven’t Changed Yet

While here on the gulf coast of the southeastern United States, the leaves haven’t changed color yet, but they will soon. There may even be some cooler temperatures — we can only hope.

Spring and autumn are my favorite seasons, and they’re in a close race to see which is the absolute favorite.

The leaves here haven’t changed this much yet, but they will soon be a brilliant orange, yellow, or red.

The leaves here haven’t changed this much yet, but they will soon be a brilliant orange, yellow, or red.

My favorite: Is It Spring? Is It Autumn?

Spring is glorious with its wild violets, flowering trees bursting into bloom, and all the bulbs popping up and blooming.

Each year, as soon as Christmas is over, I am ready for spring. I love seeing the camellias bloom in January and the yellow bells (forsythia) in February. I eagerly await the crocus in late winter, followed quickly by tulips and daffodils.

Autumn is equally glorious with the brilliantly colored leaves and fall-blooming flowers such as mums, asters, pansies, violas, and autumn joy sedum. Even the wildflowers, such as goldenrod are gorgeous.

I snapped this pic on a trip a few years ago. Isn't this decorative bicycle cute?

I snapped this pic on a trip a few years ago. Isn't this decorative bicycle cute?

Bike Riding and Catching Fireflies

There was a time when I loved summer. As a child and pre-teen, I loved riding my bicycle all over town, meeting my friends at the park, and staying out at night catching fireflies or just lying in the grass. Summer was great.

Spring is resplendent with flowering azaleas.

Spring is resplendent with flowering azaleas.

The Hillside Was Beautiful

Our yard sloped steeply to a creek that I enjoyed. On that hillside were dogwood trees, daffodils, azaleas, flowering quince, sweet shrubs, little brown jugs, wild fern, and wild violets. As a child and in early adolescence, I loved to wade in the ankle-deep water.

Mom and Dad are gone now, and I had to sell their house, my childhood home. I hope the new people are taking care of all the plants and flowers. Dad has 114 azaleas on that suburban lot. When they all bloomed it was heavenly.


No, our little creek wasn’t this wide, but it was just right for kids to play in all summer.

No, our little creek wasn’t this wide, but it was just right for kids to play in all summer.

Great Place to Catch Crawdads

I dammed up the creek, caught crawdads in a Mason jar, and couldn’t understand why they died — after all, I punched air holes in the lid. It was all such fun. It didn’t get as hot back then as it does now, and besides, if we got too hot, we just “fell” into the creek.

Disappointing News From Dad

One day my dad told me the creek I loved was just a drainage ditch. I know now that, while it did drain our neighborhood, it was much more than a drainage ditch. Sorry, Dad, but it was, and still is a creek.

This is my dad and me. We had dug up some plants for me to put in my yard. By this time, he had grown too old to keep the entire hillside clear of underbrush, and I lived too far away (400 miles) to help.

This is my dad and me. We had dug up some plants for me to put in my yard. By this time, he had grown too old to keep the entire hillside clear of underbrush, and I lived too far away (400 miles) to help.

Much More Than a Drainage Ditch

That creek had a sandy bottom peppered with smooth river rocks. It never ran dry. It had wildflowers growing along the banks. It had a fallen tree that I and all the neighborhood children used for crossing the creek.

Just past the house next door, it had a sharp bend where it was much deeper, and we could wade in crystal clear water that was almost knee-deep. It was so much more fun to walk down the sides of that creek to visit friends than to walk down the street in front of our homes. Then I grew up.

I love walking on the beach, and letting the waves lap over my toes.

I love walking on the beach, and letting the waves lap over my toes.

Oh, How I Loved the Beach

As an adult, I reveled in walking on the beach early in the morning when no one else was around. I could pick up seashells, wiggle my toes in the sand, and enjoy running back-and-forth letting the waves chase me – it was wonderful.

Now I don’t go to the beach so much. It’s crowded and expensive. Summer is no longer as joyful to me as it once was — it is oppressively hot and humid, but yard work still has to be done.

Pretty pastoral scene or a miserable day?

Pretty pastoral scene or a miserable day?

My Favorite Season Is Definitely Not Winter

Winter is usually mild here, but can be cold and rainy, and occasionally gray and dreary. I do enjoy a brisk day with just a little nip in the air. Sweater weather — that’s what I like.

As I grow older, I find summer to be oppressive. I suppose it depends on where you live — how you see the seasons, that is.

Arugula is so tasty in a salad, and we will have plenty for salads all winter, unless there is a hard freeze.

Arugula is so tasty in a salad, and we will have plenty for salads all winter, unless there is a hard freeze.

It’s Time to Start That Winter Garden

I already have my seeds for arugula, mesclun, lettuces, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. I just need to amend the soil, and I’m ready to plant. The cooler temps arriving tonight are perfectly timed.

I've Finally Decided

I’m definitely happiest in spring and fall, but I’ve decided — autumn is my favorite season. No wait. Spring is my favorite. No wait… Well, I can love them both, can’t I?

© 2021 MariaMontgomery

Your Comments Are Always Welcome

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on October 01, 2021:

Thanks, Shauna. At least one of us can be decisive. Sometimes I miss living where the 4 seasons are more distinctive, but I do not miss the cold weather. We moved just far enough north that I can grow hosta, tulips, daffodils, & irises -- things I couldn't grow in central Florida.

Yep, people here in coastal Alabama call them crawfish, too. They have huge crawfish boils, but I just can't bring myself to eat one -- not sure why. I'll stick to lobster & shrimp. Thanks so much for your comment and for the nice words about my article and photos.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 01, 2021:

I thoroughly enjoyed this read, Maria. I have some of the same childhood memories as you, i.e. catching lightning bugs and crawdads. I smiled when I read that. Most people call them crawfish, but my family has always called them crawdads.

Your photos are breathtaking, as always.

I'm torn between Spring and Fall myself, but I'm sure if I still lived up North where the seasons are more defined I'd better be able to choose.

When I lived in Pennyslvania, we had Lily of the Valley all over the place. The tiny little flowers are so fragrant. They're my favorite flower - those and tulips. Sadly, neither grow in Florida. I do miss the variety of scents and colors of Spring and Fall. We have some in Florida, but we lack the changing leaves. So, I guess I just made up my mind. My favorite Florida season is Spring.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on September 23, 2021:

It was fun taking a walk down memory lane. Dad really loved his yard. He made me work in the yard with him sometimes, and I hated it. Now I'm so glad he did, as I learned so much. Until this summer, with your off-the-charts heat, I always thought it would be relatively mild in the summer there. It's changing everywhere. Thanks for reading my article, and for your thoughtful comment.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on September 23, 2021:

Those childhood memories of lazy summer days are often the best, aren't they? I'm happy I could bring them back for you. Thanks for such a nice comment.

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on September 23, 2021:

So glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 22, 2021:

i love everything you wrote. I love autumn, but I like to travel north to see more of the beautiful leaves. Thank you for sharing such a nice article, Maria.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 22, 2021:

I enjoyed reading this so much, Maria, and you brought back some of my own childhood memories. Isn’t it funny how our perception changes over time? Autumn and Spring are now my favourite seasons. I find Winter to be ok, but no longer enjoy the oppressive Summer heat.

As a child and teenager i enjoyed Summer and spent a lot of time at the beach or walking in the forest with friends. Your photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2021:

Loved your memories! Your dad was energetic about his property, wasn't he? All those azaleas....my goodness gracious!

The climate is changing so much for us. I used to love summers here in the Pacific Northwest, but not anymore. It's just too hot here, and seems to be getting hotter each year. I think I'll vote for Autumn as my favorite. Late September, early October, pure heaven here in Olympia. :)

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on September 22, 2021:

So glad you enjoyed it. Obviously, I'm stuck on choosing a fav. I just added a paragraph and one photo since you read it. It is just a short blurb about planting cool season greens & veggies. Thanks so much for reading my musings.

Dora Weithers on September 22, 2021:

Enjoyed your reminiscing. So many happy thoughts come with memories shared with parents. Autumn is definitely my favorite when I'm in America.

(I sent you an email.)

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