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September Remember... Who Can Forget?

This obelisk, commemorating members of the Indian River County Fire & Rescue Service, stands outside Fire Station #2 near Riverside Park. In the foreground is a scorched piece of metal from the World Trade Center.

This obelisk, commemorating members of the Indian River County Fire & Rescue Service, stands outside Fire Station #2 near Riverside Park. In the foreground is a scorched piece of metal from the World Trade Center.

Autumn doesn’t announce itself in Florida with flannel shirts and frosted pumpkins. Except for returning red-tailed hawks perched on telephone poles, its muted fanfare, sounded by longleaf pines that begin to whistle like teakettles, a run on storm insurance, a bloom on the sawgrass, schools of mullet fattened on summer roe thickening like pudding, is scarcely noticed.

This subtle shift triggers a host of September memories for me; of returning to school after a Labor Day weekend to the alkaline aroma of chalk on a blackboard, of Spanish rice made with saffron and pimientos in the school cafeteria, the chink of a kickball against the siding of the third-grade trailer, wading through waist-high storm water with my brother while my father chased after us, shouting about downed wires.“September-Remember,” a reference to the timetable of hurricanes (June, too soon, August, look out you must), is a weathered axiom from early Floridians’ catchall of handy aphorisms, like not eating green pecans or grabbing a snook by the head. It helped us get by at a time when hurricanes were announced by the whistle of a passing train or a cat jumping up on a fence.

Read the entire article in the September-October 2010 issue