Welcome, Fall

Something about the fall revives my soul and causes a quickening within me, something lively and joyful that the summer heat has almost killed. Just before that something is completely depleted by the raging heat of summer, that first cool night comes calling. This year the temperature dropped into the 50s, and my heart soared. One morning this week the thermometer is supposed to read 39 degrees. I’ll actually have to put on a sweater while the dogs and I roam about the yard on our early morning jaunt. Again, my spirits will soar. My favorite season had finally arrived. (I know what the calendar says, but we southerners know that fall did not arrive back in September—not here anyway.)

I love the brightly colored falling leaves, creating a medley of color on top of my grass—gold, yellow, brown, red, and so many in between. Larry and I love the fall vegetables—mustard and turnip greens, sweet potatoes, and rutabagas. We could eat them every day with some cornbread and a bit of hot pepper sauce to pour over the greens. We are truly children of the old South, born of the earth and of our farming heritage.

Yet the fall does bring us one quandary: we must bring in THE PLANT to protect it from the coming cold weather. This plant is the Philodendron Hope Selloum if you want to ask Mr. Google to show it to you. He’s such a nice guy and so generous with his information and pictures. Anyway, this plant is about 25 years old, my oldest by far, and I don’t want to lose it. It spends summers out in the deep shade of the oak trees in the back yard. It thrives there, and its big leaves grow glossy and dark, dark green. Winters it spends in the house with us, usually in a place of honor in the living room. It doesn’t care as much for the house as for the outdoors, but it cares even less for the freezing temperatures when old Man Winter drops in for the occasional visit.

About 15 years ago, I thought I had lost it. I spent a couple of weeks one January sojourning in the hospital. While I was gone, the temperature fell into the upper 20s. My poor plant froze and died, or so I thought. Imagine my surprise and excitement when the spring came, bringing tender young shoots in that pot. Since then, I’ve always managed to take better care of it by planning my illnesses a bit more judiciously. Right now, it’s gorgeous, but the Weather Channel says next week will bring temperatures in the 30s. I don’t completely trust the weather prognosticators, but I’m taking no chances with my plant either. Larry promised me that it will come indoors this very week. And our friend Jeremy, who is much younger than Larry, volunteered to “man-handle” it inside. It can ride in on the wheeled dolly. I don’t much care how it gets in so long as it does.

We had one slight problem this past fall as well—one we’d never had before. This problem has beautiful brown eyes and white paws, except when she chews up a blue ink pen. Her belly and chest are white, too, and we prefer them to stay that way. We called this problem Josie, the puppy. Last year the philodendron spent the winter in the back bedroom. Plenty of light satisfied its needs and a closed door provided the needed protection from Josie. Any house guests lucky enough to sleep in that room had the added ambiance of the lovely philodendron that fills a fourth of the room. Josie has grown up now though and the plant is safe from her. It can take once again its place of honor in the living room.

Yes, truly, fall seems to have arrived. I am delighted and relish every minute. I wouldn’t dare decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving because I believe in savoring fall first. And who knows? Wouldn’t it be a miracle if my electric bill actually fell a little more? It did drop last month by 8 whole dollars. Maybe it’ll go down another 8 this month.