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Keep your fall leaves, we get stone crabs & strawberries

I get nostalgic for falling leaves this time every year and feel a little sorry for my kids, who have never raked anything into a pile.

No fanfare of spectacular colors, no dramatic dips in temperature as autumn rambles into winter. No blowing pretend cigarette smoke through their fingers on frigid mornings at the bus stop before school.

No scraping ice off the car windshield.

No shoveling snow for hours just to leave the house.

No huddling under the covers, dreading to get out of bed on days colder than a toll taker's smile on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Come to think of it, I happen to like our seasons in South Florida.

They may be subtle, but we have our own ways of marking change in Miami. Here are some of my favorite signs that we're about to enter a new season:

FALL

Joe's Stone Crab lets us back in.

We're willing to drive 40 minutes for homemade cinnamon buns and a chance to pick our own strawberries when Knaus Berry Farm opens up again in Homestead.

Turkey vultures start circling the Miami-Dade Civil Courthouse, turning downtown into the flying monkeys scene from The Wizard of Oz.

Full moon concerts resume at The Barnacle in Coconut Grove.

It's acceptable practice to scream at the TV as the Dolphins crush our hopes. Again.

Miami Book Fair International brings all the best writers to town.

The true horrors of Halloween – heat-stricken pumpkins quickly turning to moldy mush – start to reek on our porches.

Farmer's markets are back in full swing.

The wind picks up & sailfish appear offshore.

New Orleans can keep its Mardi Gras. We like to do it on the water at the Columbus Day Regatta.

WINTER

Time to plant the impatiens.

We can forgo AC and actually ride with the windows down in our cars (although nobody ever does).

Instead of snowflakes, we get chill-stricken iguanas falling from the sky.

Two-legged snowbirds come back to roost.

Crowds of people in expensive eyeglasses come into town to look pensive in front of art for Art Basel Miami Beach.

The Mango Strut further proves that Coconut Grove is Miami's Portlandia.

Dreams come true for high school football recruits all over Miami on National Signing Day.

For once, there are more people than cars on the streets as the ING Marathon runs through Miami.

'Tis the season for festivals, epitomized by the holy triumvirate – Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail, Coconut Grove Arts Festival and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

We enjoy the last breeze of the season at the Sony Ericsson Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne.

SPRING

Miami turns red as Poinciana trees in full bloom light up the skyline.

Batter up. Major League Baseball is back.

All the orchids you get each Mother's Day start blooming on the trees in your yard.

College kids show up on our beaches (and bars) for Spring Break.

Downtown trips in neon for Ultra Music Festival.

SUMMER

Luscious, sunset-colored fruit goes from backyard to breakfast table and gets celebrated in all its glory at the International Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

Lychees start to pop up on roadside stands for a few, too-brief weeks.

Hold your breath and break out the melted butter. For two days, we get our own Florida lobster mini-season.

The beginning of hurricane season reminds us that we are, after all, only here as Mother Nature's guests.

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