Month of August is door to fall fun, festivities

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Many of you who are reading your paper today, the first day of August, probably realize this month symbolizes characteristics, scenes, themes and activities of things to come in the remaining months between now and Christmas.

In contrast to the spring season August offers us a sample of autumn. Genre is a term usually associated with arts, music, literature, etc.  But I like to compare the genre of smells and aromas, if you will, of these two seasons. Long time residents will be reminded of years- ago spring time smells of Irish potatoes graded at the “potato sheds” adjacent Frisco and L&N tracks situated in various locations in town. And, cotton picked and ginned in the fall emitting an aroma of freshness and “softness,” renders a return of routines we discarded over the summer months.

So, these next months will be filled with going back to school, enrolling and returning to college classes, either on the campus or online, following favorite high school and college football teams and enjoying fall festivals.  For some it will be a time of sadness as our “little boys and girls,” now all grown up, will be leaving home for the first time to enter college.

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I particularly enjoy this season anticipating the return of all my favorite TV shows, waiting for the leaves to turn, eating hot dogs at Williams Station Day, holiday family gatherings and finding an old sugar cane mill for a glass of sweet “cane juice.” I really enjoy the awe of tracking hurricanes as I have done for thirty years even though I no longer follow that work now. Some opt for the great outdoors where hunting and fishing abounds. Yes, there is something for all of us during this upcoming season. And, it all begins today, the first day of August, even though autumn is still a few days away.

With autumn just around the corner, I hope you don’t mind my giving you a tip on a great place to spend a delightful weekend.

And, it’s only a four and one half hour drive from here. I am referring to a cozy, lazy, laid back “get away” spot where you can forget the cares of the day. It is Wakulla Springs, Florida, located about 30 miles south of Tallahassee. As you travel  east from Atmore on I-10, take a right in Quincy on Florida State road 267 and travel for eight miles and then take another right on the same 267 and Florida Highway 20 which takes you directly into Wakulla Springs.

You won’t see many trees turning colors because the park is dominated by huge water oaks sporting somewhat spooky patches of gray moss swaying freely from the comforting breezes. And they seem to murmur “welcome-come enjoy and relax in our contented paradise.” Embraced by unique surroundings and quiet nights that heavenly twinkling stars seem so close you can touch them, the chirping of crickets and hoots of night fowl lends assurance we are welcome in their domain.

My wife and I found this “tropical like” weekend vacation spot while I was  working flood losses  in September 1985 following Hurricane Elena, that storm that  went back and forth, back and forth across  north Florida  finally crashing  ashore in Mississippi. Breakfast and all the meals served in the huge, stately grey colored inn were just great. An inspiring boat trip on the calm Wakulla Springs River added to the lore of this most inviting spot.

Several movies were filmed there. Beautiful rivers, lake and dark shadows created by the heavily endowed dark green water oak leaves provided the perfect setting for “The Creature From The Black Lagoon,” a movie partially filmed there in 1954.

I suppose the reason I am writing about this location is the fact that I was so impressed by its beauty. Really, I am writing about it because it is located not too far from us. Or, perhaps, just turning that calendar page today, the first day of August, inspired my selecting this topic for this week’s column.

Speaking of favorite TV shows I received one of those stock-stereotype emails the other day posing questions about fall TV shows. One question was “do you think Beckett and Castle will get married?” That’s all it said. I really did not know if I should respond but I knew the characters referenced. They appear in “Castle,” one of my favorite TV shows. You probably remember the ending of the last episode where Beckett, on a rainy and stormy night, struggled to Castle’s front door and tumbled into his arms giving you the impression she was terminating her career as a police detective.  I suppose my response to that email question is “I just don’t know what will happen next for these two.”  I think those TV writers used that particular scene to draw viewers to the upcoming “Castle” series beginning next month. I also think this was some type of survey email regarding the show’s popularity.

On the subject of writing novels and plays, former Atmore Advance publisher Martin Ritchie let me in on some of his secrets for successful novel writing back in the early 1950s. I remember his telling me the prime prerequisites for successful novel writing is having a keen imagination, possessing a repertoire of descriptive adjectives, adverbs, colorful nouns and a solid basic command of the English language.  He said you should always rely on your experiences, pick a good theme, add a diversity of characters, insert a conflict and BINGO you have become a successful novelist or playwright. Laughingly he told me “without these qualities forget novels and get a job writing hard news as a night editor for a daily newspaper.”

Now, getting back to current news, I want to remind you of good gospel and country singings and delicious meals on the last Friday evening of each month at Little River State Park. Those food servings are just great and the music, consisting of traditional tunes and songs, is most pleasing to the ear. Prices for food are very reasonable compared to eating out at a restaurant. Take the whole family. You’ll enjoy it. The folks in charge of this event are to be congratulated for their efforts, moreover their entrepreneurial idea.

We will have more news from Atmore’s yesteryears in our column next week.

“…yes,….. it always whispers to me…those days of long ago….”

Lowell McGill can be reached at