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I hear things. Not necessarily things in my head (although possible) but more like the sounds of Florida. That’s because I finally turned off the air conditioner, opened the windows and can now let an authentic Florida fall into my home. I hear birds chirping, squirrels running up and down trees, leaves falling and the wind creating a soft, gentle breeze. It’s almost startling.

People joke that there are no seasons in Florida. But I know exactly when summer ends and fall starts. Fall brings in the splendid beauty of Florida…vibrant purple beautyberries dot the landscape, and citrus is beginning to color the area with yellow and orange fruit. The resident red-shouldered hawk has landed outside my kitchen window and it’s time to throw the traps out for stone crab season. The days are shorter and cooler. The sunset is moving south and the rainstorms have lessened.

My vegetable garden is almost planted. It’s also that time of year when local farms are beckoning my return after a long summer while they bring fresh Florida ingredients to the weekly markets.

My cookbooks are stacked in piles with post-its attached to my favorite recipes. My family eagerly anticipates the new dishes I create to celebrate the fall bounty.

It’s also time to plan a wildflower hike and another trek to the Everglades. My binoculars are close at hand as the birds are now migrating and creating a plethora of beauty.

I hear things. The sounds and beauty of fall are everywhere in my Authentic Florida. Can you hear them too?

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