By Forest Riggs
The calendar tells us that summer has gone and fall has arrived. For island dwellers and southeast Texans, we beg to differ. Locals jokingly say, “Sure, we have four season, summer, summer, summer and summer!”
In truth, we do get a little change, maybe from summer to a “cooler summer” and historically, that should be happening about now! In mid-September, we had a cool snap and with temperatures dropping to the upper 60s and low 70s at night, everyone became excited with the thought that fall was on the way. Boy, were we fooled! Here it is October and although the stores are chock-full of Halloween and even Christmas decorations, we are still sweltering in humid heat, swatting blood-sucking mosquitos and wondering if it will ever end.
Fall on Galveston Island is usually an exciting and special time. Parties are being planned, as are festivals, art shows, church bazaars, the Lone Star Rally, Dickens on the Strand, 5Ks and lots of outdoor activities. This year is no different, however, all the fun does come at a time when Galvestonians and their neighbors really need (or better yet, ache) for some fun and celebration. Hurricane Harvey destroyed so much and left so many feeling lost, alone and hopeless. Maybe a fun fall is just what we need to laugh again, smile and look beyond the misery of the past few months.
Though the island did not take a hit, nor sustain tremendous damage (mostly flooding
that quickly drained), islanders feel badly for their neighbors and friends. What is usually a tremendous “last call” for beach and “Galveston time,” the merchants and locals felt it would be a bit out of place to make a huge last-of-the-season splash in advertising and marketing to lure visitors to the island. Out of consideration for all who have suffered and lost, the island collectively sends a strong message: “We are here for you. Take some time, relax and come on down.”
Fall is that time of year that brings a crisp new feeling inside each person. True, it helps to get that seasonal feeling when the temperature is cooler and it “feels” more like fall by indulging in its candied apples, spiced cider, pumpkin lattes and even seasonal beers. Unfortunately, what should be “snuggle by the fireplace” weather, for islanders is still “sit under the AC unit and stay cool.”
It has always amazed me as to how seasons, especially fall and Christmas, can be some magical place in the minds of us humans. When I lived and taught in the U.S. Virgin Islands, even though it was a balmy 82-degrees, the students would draw snow pictures, cut out snowflakes and create cold, Norman Rockwell-esque holiday scenes. It amazed me because most of these students had never experienced any cold weather, fall or climatic change of any kind, save maybe a hurricane or shift in the trade winds. Still, they celebrated fall, toasty scenes and distinct seasonal events.
Most of us have great childhood memories of fall: raking and burning leaves, sitting by a crackling fire (inside or outside), brisk walks on a crisp afternoon, and the sweet aroma that seems to fill the air in October. These are the things that make October and the fall season so special. Galveston is no exception to this as there are special things on the island to be enjoyed during the season. The crowds are gone, which means there are no waits in lines, traffic is back to normal, beaches are almost deserted and the Gulf water is blue and green. Fall is the perfect time to recline on the beach, catch late rays or enjoy a good book on shady porch. Though major retailers have, by the first of September, inundated us with fall, Halloween and Christmas merchandise, it is this time of year when scarecrows, pumpkins and spooky things begin to appear in yards and around the porches of Galveston’s beautiful homes.
Even the bars and clubs begin to take on a new “look” on the inside as the LGBTQ community steps it up a notch and decorates like there is no straight tomorrow. I guess you could say that after a lazy summer, the island is starting to stir and gradually move toward the holidays and, of course, the climax: Mardi Gras!
Regardless of your situation and the fact that “fall weather” seems as though it will never arrive, Galveston and its people—whether gay, straight and in-between—send out a huge invitation to come visit and shrug off the negativity of the past several weeks. Doubt we will have a “chill” and there won’t be an early fall, but never the less, there will plenty of opportunities to gather with friends and make happy memories.
Happy fall from Galveston Island.
Correction: In a previous article, the caption listing the Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 14th and Broadway was incorrect. The photo actually depicted First Presbyterian Church at 1903 Church Street. Mea culpa!
Forest Riggs, a resident of Galveston is no stranger to the adventures of life. A former educator and business owner, he enjoys Island life and all that comes with it. He says he is a “raconteur with a quixotic, gypsy spirit.” He has written for several newspapers and magazines as well as other writing pursuits, including a novel and collection of short stories.