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South Mississippi can still celebrate fall

The setting sun provides a lighted backdrop for a person walking on the beach near Lighthouse Pier in Biloxi. Because of atmospheric changes, sunsets in the fall and winter tend to have more vivid shades of red, orange and yellow and even purple.
The setting sun provides a lighted backdrop for a person walking on the beach near Lighthouse Pier in Biloxi. Because of atmospheric changes, sunsets in the fall and winter tend to have more vivid shades of red, orange and yellow and even purple. Sun Herald file

It’s been fall for a little over a week, according to the calendar.

But as anyone who has lived for more than a year on the Mississippi Gulf Coast knows, don’t expect New England-like blazing orange and red sugar maple leaves and a crisp note in the air, at least not right away.

Cooler temperatures will come, but in the meantime, we’re likely to still see several warm days.

Nevertheless, we have our own ways to recognize and enjoy fall down here. Here are a few suggestions to help welcome the season to South Mississippi.

Enjoy the sunsets

It’s not your imagination. Sunsets are more brilliant in the fall and winter, and there are a couple of factors going on, according to weather.com.

For one thing, the various colors of the spectrum have varying wavelengths. Blue’s wavelengths are shortest, so they get scattered the most by molecules in the atmosphere. On the other hand, reds and oranges have much longer wavelengths, so they aren’t scattered as much.

During sunrise and sunset hours, the sun’s light comes in much more contact with molecules. So the blue gets scattered away while we such much more of the warm colors.

Add fall and winter weather patterns that sweep down toward us from Canada, bringing with them dry, clean air (meaning even more colors of the spectrum aren’t scattered), and you have the makings for an amazing sunset.

With the shift of the earth’s axis, also, sunsets are more centered over the Mississippi Sound, giving you that “sun melting into the water” image.

Plant flowers

South Mississippi’s temperate climate means we can have some kind of flowers blooming year round (pansies and violas thrive in the winter months), but there’s something about those gold, yellow, orange, red and purple blooms associated with fall that send people flocking to garden centers and shops as soon as the first flats of marigolds and chrysanthemums arrive. Go ahead and indulge, and add some intriguing coleus in coppery shades or with purple-white edging for interest, height and varying texture.

Hit local trails

Sure, it’s still warm, but it’s not as warm as, say, July or August. Get up early one weekend morning, put on your walking shoes or hikers and go to one of several trails available to the public. Among the local offerings are Tuxachanie Hiking Trail in the DeSoto National Forest south of Wiggins; Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs; Twelve Oaks Nature Trail in Ocean Springs; the Possum Walk Trail at Infinity Science Center in Hancock County and the Discovery Trail at Shepard State Park in Waveland. Don’t forget the insect repellent and some water.

Enjoy the evenings

I won’t say mosquitoes cease being a thing come late September (they have been spotted in January and February).

But the cooler evenings can lure us out of our climate-controlled homes and onto front porches or around firepits.

There’s something about a front porch swing or rocker, or sitting near an outdoor fire with a mug of coffee or hot chocolate or a favorite adult beverage that eases a sense of peace and contentment. You just might hear an owl hooting in the distance, too.

Find a festival

If you check out sunherald.com’s calendar listings, you’re bound to find something coming up that will pique your interest. Events also are included in Marquee on Fridays and in the This Week listing on Mondays in the Sun Herald.

Tammy Smith: 228-896-2130, @Simmiefran1

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