Does Charleston Have A Fall?

  • Friday, October 12, 2012

October 1st in Charleston. I came in from an evening walk sporting 50 shades of sweat. My head looked like an afro tribute to the Jackson Five band and my legs are blood spattered with mosquito parts. I tossed a dried brown leaf onto the counter, spouting off "There's our leaf change." Still grumbling about allergies to Palmetto trees , I head to the shower.
I was missing October in North Carolina. The hillsides were ablaze with fall colors of crimson and orange and gold. The sound of the leaves skipping across the asphalt with a cool breeze whispered warnings oncoming winter. Signs crept up everywhere for Chicken Stews and fall festivals. September nights dipped into the 40's and a few chimneys start smoking. Sweaters and coats are pulled out and summer clothes packed away. You could smell smokehouses curing hams as you ride down the road.
A clearer and tamer head prevailed after a shower. I recalled a 7 day week in NC only 3 years ago. We were snowed in solid, no getting out and without power for three of those days. I found my journal and leafed through it. Here are a few excerpts.
~It was 2 p.m. Friday when the power went out. I am sure some of the neighbors left to stay with family that had heat. However, from several nosy neighbor peeks, I noticed that two of the families have decided to rough it out. I took Snowy for an outdoor excursion, realizing quickly that the power will be down for a few days. Tree's are leaning with the weight of snow and there's a lot of cracking and popping going on in the wood line. The temp inside dropped rapidly and Don started a fire in fireplace. I love fires OUTSIDE. But try as I may, I cannot get over the fear of fire burning inside. This is much to Don's chagrin, considering we have 2 cords of hardwood stacked outside. I jump at every pop and crackle in the fireplace. I won't go to bed until the fire is almost completely out. Not that I don't trust Don completely to take care of me. A seasoned fireman could be sitting directly in front of the fireplace with hose in hand and I still wouldn't close my eyes. The house is beginning to warm, or at least the living room.
We used the remaining daylight to round up candles, lamps, radio and batteries. I had gathered 6 gallons of water in a large crock in yesterday, just in case. We huddled together in front of the fire and on the couch for hours. After several hours and a few repetitious calls to the power company, we concluded that we were in the position we would stay tonight. I read, Don read, Snowy...well she wasn't handling the situation very well. She kept going to the window to search for the Calvary.
(Second Day Without Power) Sunlight streamed into the window this morning, and the power came on!! I lept from the bed and ran for the coffee pot. Before I could get to the kitchen, the power went back off. I put on my heavy wool coat, scarf and ski gloves to take Snowy out. It feels the same outside as inside. I come back in to take a survey of emergency supplies. Down to 3 candles. The temp on my Coca Cola thermostat on frig says 33 degrees. No need to check for food spoilage. I sit in the living room and make a silent vow to remember this day the next time I am in a tropical destination with my toes dug into the sand.
There is something alluring about studying a fire. It can be quite mesmerizing. Could it be that I am losing my fear of it? Well, it's 7 p.m. and another night is closing in on us. We pass the time talking about our favorite foods, which at the moment would be seafood in a warm port town with umbrella drinks. We reminisced, read and played Scrabble and Sequence. I am getting sleepy, but the embers are still blazing. I decide that the first two things I will do when the power comes back on is drink a pot of coffee while my shower water is heating.
(Third Day Without Power) It was hard to pull myself from under the covers this morning. I got the fire going with newspaper. I called the power company. Possibly today they tell me. My sister calls, we have our morning chat. She is sitting outside in a light housecoat and says it is 70 degrees there in Charleston. Don bundled up and brought some wood in. I took a quick, freezing bird bath. I also found that toothpaste is extremely more refreshing with ice water than warm tap water. I checked the freezer, although most of the food is good and solid, it is getting softer and more thawed and probably wont make it through another day or two. Speaking of not making it, Don lost two of his aquarium fish. Don and Snowy take a nap and I sit in bean bag in front of fire.
The power came back on that evening. As we sat in the living room bathed in light and sounds from the TV and heat rolling through the vents, I vowed to never forget those three days and not to grumble when it was hot.
I look for the subtle nuances of season change in Charleston. Although Starbucks would like us to believe differently, fall isn't ushered in with the release of Pumpkin Spice Latte's. Let's see... Well the squirrels are busier than me. Acorns crunch on the ground everywhere. Sand is cool to the touch of my bare feet. Although I don't hear the sound of leaves skipping across the yard, the lower palmetto fronds rustle in the wind and the marsh grasses change colors. Oh..and there are fall colors all around me, albeit jerseys, Gamecocks Crimson and Clemson Orange. October 2nd. My daughter in NC calls to tell me that she is freezing. She forgot to check the weather and her toes and hands are frozen. I look out over the pond with my coffee in my flip flops and short sleeved gown and exclaim "Really? It's 75 degrees here this morning."

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