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Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Seasons stutter here in the South. It seems as though we named Porky Pig as the Herald of Fall. The temperatures dip when storms systems push through, but hot and humid days always seem to follow. Yesterday was an obvious exception to the recent rule and the sign of a long-awaited change in Southern lifestyle.

Tuesday should have been labeled the first official day of Fall, or Autumn if you prefer the term. As it stands the day named the "first day of Fall" was September 23, 2002. It is quite a shame that September 23 felt more like July 23. I may be over-reacting a bit, but the atmosphere outside in no way resembled Fall.

I woke yesterday morning to the strange comfort of a chill. It is not often I am comforted by waking to cold weather, but the long stretch of hot weather has made me wonder if Fall would ever come.

I crawled out of my warm sheets and quickly ran to warm the water for a hot shower. The steady drizzle of rain outside made it even harder for me to wipe the sleep from my eyes. Next came the eagerly-anticipated task of sorting through my long-sleeve shirts. It seemed every shirt I pulled from the closet was wrinkled from the long summer's wait. I had hoped ironing could be avoided, but it did not seem possible with the abundance of wrinkled shirts.

Fall means more than cold weather and long sleeve shirts. Fall means a change in scenery. All the greens, purples and blues will be replaced with browns, reds and oranges. Halloween decorations are now in full force. The Thanksgiving spirit will soon be ushered in to take Halloween's place. Thanksgiving will then be followed by the beautiful spirit of Christmas.

Fall and Winter seem to pass by quicker than they come. The great number of holiday packed into the cold months of October, November and December fill the air with anticipation.

People begin scurrying to malls and shopping centers across the state as Christmas draws near. Sale signs crowd every aisle and children fill their wish lists with their heart's desire.

The cold holiday season will be speckled with rosy red noses and bundled up bodies. Children will surely pray for a bit of snow to grace this Christmas season. I know my prayers will include a little wish for a snow-covered Christmas.

Tuesday also brought tidings of my traditional Fall cold. It seems I am more susceptible to colds when Fall first comes to the South. It is definitely time to stock up on Vitamin C and chicken noodle soup.

Now families will

have a reason to gather around the fireplace or bundle up in blankets on the couch. It is time for bonfires and marshmallows - candy corn and pumpkin pie.

Ghost stories will be passed on from one generation to the next. New memories will be made and old memories will be remembered.

Now we can all put on our Winter coats and sip hot cocoa to warm our bodies in the morning. Warm Winter dishes will decorate dinner tables. Fall is finally here.