Creating a fall atmosphere in a warm climate

Ah, the first weeks of fall, when in Texas and Arkansas we all have thoughts of boots and fall leaves and pumpkin spice running through our minds. We start planning crock pots of chili and weenie roasts and the first showing of Hocus Pocus on Friday night. Until we walk outside and are hit smack in the face with 98 degrees Fahrenheit and 78% humidity. Ugh. It still feels like July.

So, how do we Ark-La-Tex residents start transitioning to fall, even when it's still hot outside? There are a few ways we can still accomplish this changing of seasons, even before the cooler temps arrive.

One way to embrace the calendar, even in the heat, is by making a few small changes in our wardrobes. Even though we can't put on the booties and cardigans yet, and avoid sweating through the day, we can change the colors that we incorporate into our daily wear. Fall means the use of more earthy tones, creams and browns and neutrals, and less bright, neon colors and traditional primaries. Not only does this apply to our clothing, but our purses and accessories as well.

This can also be achieved by incorporating light layers into our repertoire. Rather than reaching for the heavy flannel or fuzzy down jacket, try adding an oversized breezy cardigan to complete your look. Denim, leather, and suede may also offer comfortable options for transitioning. While you may not be able to wear the jacket all day, at least having it on in the morning helps start shifting toward fall and out of summer.

Another option is to avoid sleeveless dresses or tops in the fall months, even if the temps are still warm. While it may seem like summer is still lingering, it's important to dress appropriately for each season, which may mean leaving tank tops and flip flops in the closet until next year.

The same concepts used to transition your wardrobe to fall in the heat can also apply to your home décor. While it may not be comfortable to light the fireplace just yet, it is absolutely appropriate to add some warmer scented candles to your décor, start draping throw blankets over the back of the sofa and chairs, and use warmer colors to dress your table and garnish the mantle.

Of course, pumpkins and flannel adorning the front porch are in style in the autumn months, but due to the hot temperatures we have experienced locally, it may be necessary to wait until closer to Halloween to carve the pumpkin if you want it to last.

According to a Southern Living article by Marissa Wu titled How Long Do Carved Pumpkins Last? Not Long, Unfortunately published in September of 2021, you can expect a carved pumpkin to last only three-to-five days in a warm, humid climate. It seems the same is true for the traditional fall potted plant, the mum, as well. While they are pretty, and complete every front porch and photo backdrop, they are incredibly difficult to keep watered in the extreme heat. For us, that means we should procrastinate on carving pumpkins, and opt for plastic or non-living decorations instead.

Instead of real pumpkins and gigantic mums, try scarecrows and hay bales instead. Both will be more resilient when the temperatures creep higher and the sun continues to scorch. Perhaps a fall wreath with glittery ribbon and fake fall leaves could accomplish the same purpose of transitioning into fall, even though it is tempting to buy the gorgeous chrysanthemums on display at the entrance of every store this time of year.

Not only does this theory apply to the front porch and outdoor décor, but inside the home as well.

Once decorations are finished, the next topic of importance becomes what to serve a busy family on these fall nights. Typically, a family with school-aged children has a jam-packed fall schedule with youth sports in full swing, and many activities planned. That means planning dinners is even more difficult, and when the temperatures continue to climb into the 90s every afternoon, it makes turning on the oven and stove top a little less appealing.

Fortunately, modern conveniences such as the crock pot, instapot and air fryer can help transition family meals into fall without creating even more heat in the kitchen. Pinterest has myriad ideas and recipes, and traditionally, with the change of seasons comes more meals including stews, casseroles, one-pot boils, and hearty ingredients.

There are many perks to living in the region known as the Ark-la-tex. The area is chocked full of beautiful landscapes, kind people, and southern charm, but a couple of our seasons are markedly missing from the typically calendar year. While this means residents miss out on wearing cute scarves and tall boots for a few months at the end of the year, it does not mean giving up the transition from summer to fall--only it requires a bit more creativity.

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