This post originally appeared September 8, 2018, on the Chile Today Hot Tamale! website. (www.chiletodayhottamale.net)
Although the autumnal equinox is still two weeks away, I have seen three definite signs, over the last two weeks, that fall is already here.
Some of you know me only in my capacity as CEO of The O’Connor Group, Inc., the parent company of Chile Today Hot Tamale! (Don’t be too impressed by the title. Kathy gave it to me, and tells me it stands for “Carry Everything Out.”) I do have another job, that of a high school math teacher, and one of my duties at the school is to supervise the morning drop-off of the eager young minds that parents entrust to our care. For the past two weeks there has been a definite touch of fall in the early morning air. I know that sounds silly, given that afternoon temperatures are still in the 90s, but the foretaste of fall is unmistakable.
The second sign I saw this morning as I was mowing the lawn. [My very first paying job was mowing our lawn (and the vacant lot next door that we were allowed to play on, if I may be allowed to end a sentence with a preposition). For that work I was awarded the magnificent sum of 25 cents, which would stay in my possession just long enough for me to hop on my bike and pedal to Wade’s Five and Dime, where I exchanged the whole two bits for bubble gum baseball cards. That is probably the only reason why I can now remember most of the starting lineup of the 1961 New York Yankees. It seems that I have not made much progress in the last 57 years, given that I am still mowing the lawn, but now without getting paid even 25 cents for it.] There are leaves everywhere on the ground! I have seen this early loss of leaves in previous years, but those were drought years. We have had a good bit of rain this summer, and Lake Oconee appears to be at full pool, so I can’t imagine that we are suffering in a drought. No, fall is definitely sneaking up on us.
The third sign involves a common insect that I spent a lifetime referring to as the “cockroach”. The denizens of the coastal portions of the southeastern United States refer to these creatures as “palmetto bugs”. I admit that “palmetto bug” sounds much nicer, so that is the term I will use. Recently, I have seen a fair number of palmetto bugs attempting to, and sometimes succeeding in, entering the house. They are relatively easy prey, as they are moving very slowly. None thus far has escaped the fate that I have in store for the lowly palmetto bug, namely, the thermonuclear tennis shoe. But this invasion of an alien species is a sure sign that fall is here. I have seen this in the past. The insects, in preparation for a change in the season, seek the comfort of our little home.
I have been vocal about the fact that my favorite season is summer, followed by spring (because it leads naturally to summer). But fall has its nice features. Fall is the season for festivals, celebrating everything from bar-b-cue (The Bar-B-Cue Festival, Lexington, NC) to apple harvests (there are many around the country, including the national festival in Arendtsville, PA, and my favorite, the Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival in Winchester, VA, hometown of Patsy Cline) to shrimp and grits.
Speaking of Shrimp and Grits, the 2018 Shrimp and Grits Festival will be held next weekend at Jekyll Island, Georgia, beginning Friday, September 14 through Sunday, September 16. This festival was voted the best festival in the southeastern United States. We attended in 2016, and we can see why it received such an accolade. The festival was canceled last year, courtesy of a hurricane (Hurricane Irma, I think), but it is back this year, and Kathy and I are looking forward to participating once again in a celebration of two fantastic foods, grits and shrimp. As it happens, we know of a hot sauce, containing garlic, that is a perfect accompaniment to this delicacy.
So, if you are in the vicinity, come see us. Enjoy beautiful Jekyll Island, enjoy the music, enjoy the food, and enjoy the crafts. In other words, enjoy the fall.