• Katherine Dudley Hoehn

Change


October on Amelia Island

Are you resistant to change? Usually, I am. When things are going well, I want them to stay that way.


When my sons were little, there were stages I wanted them to freeze in, such as when they were six and thought they could grow up and marry me. By eight, change was in the air. By nine and ten, they were beginning to be annoyed by me and annoying me right back. But many good years outweighed the bad moments and now they have their own parental challenges and changing children to deal with.


One change I don’t mind at all is seasonal. In Florida, changes in seasons are not as dramatic as they are further north. Sometimes the change is nearly unnoticeable, unless you pay attention to God’s calendar (a.k.a. nature).


The first audible sign of season change in northeast Florida is the school buses. The annual cicadas, from whom come the most cacophonous noises in late August and early September, have quieted. Leah finds the dead and dying ones irresistible.


As we move from hurricane season further into fall, we have fewer rain showers in the afternoon, and the sun rises later and sets earlier. Even better, the skies are more dramatic.


While Florida has always been a great cloud-watching place, cumulus clouds in the fall seem fluffier and more playful. Cloud watching is a fun pastime.

Can you see the hand rising out of the ocean in this one?


Or the warthog kissing the tiny dragon in this one?


We have many hickory trees. They provide wonderful shade. I appreciate their fall symphony as they pelt the roof, sometimes with the precision of a great percussion section. They also keep the squirrels busy. Walking under the trees, you are sure to get a shower of nut shells from the squirrels gnawing.



Live oaks, hickories, and blue ginger

Leaf peepers (the humans) go north for the fall season because Florida has very little fall leaf color. In fact, our trees shed their leaves in late winter and spring, to the annoyance of many northerners who “didn’t come here to rake leaves!”


Baby lizards hatch and congregate in the sun on the driveway, sidewalk, and fences, scattering when humans and dogs approach. Leah, of course, chases them, often with a bad end for the lizard.

Baby lizard

Squirrels have their second round of kits in August and September, so Mama squirrels are grabbing quick snacks before returning to their babies. The babies I rescued in September (see blog Making a Difference - The Squirrel Sisters), are thriving and eating some solid food now. Their rehabber, Ralph, shared this photo of the little cuties. They will be released as adults in six to eight weeks.


Sally and Stephanie

Shrimp plant

The shrimp plants bloom most in early fall. The glorious purple beauty berries are so large and heavy that the branches touch the ground. The tea olive trees' fragrance permeates the back garden.

Beauty berry bush





Ibis

The ibis, who have stayed closer to the lakes and marshes during the summer months, have begun combing the neighborhood for insects and lizards. Large flocks of them sweep the grasses and flower beds with their curvy beaks aimed at wriggling delicacies. Leah likes to chase them, too.

Purple Passion flower

The tiger swallowtails, zebra longwings, and gulf fritillary butterflies are in town. The latter two have been laying the last of their eggs on the purple passion flower vines.

Tiny caterpillars have begun to emerge. Monarchs caterpillars have stripped the milkweed and the adult butterflies have begun to fly south, gathering sustenance from our many nectar flowers before their long flight to Mexico.




The beaches are nearly empty and cooler in fall. As always, there are interesting finds, including sharks' teeth, whale bones, and shells. This week, I watched tourists find a live starfish on the shore then return it to the sea. I found a tiny crab. Dolphin swam close to shore and I chose to enjoy the show rather than take a photo.


Fall is a busy time in nature, with lots to take in. Every day is an adventure. Soon the migrating birds will return. This is change at its best. Lucky me!

Monkey tail of the Australian Tree Fern


Australian Tree Fern


Staghorn fern

Blossom of the blue ginger plant

Leah

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