I’ve been spending lots of time enjoying our 2014 trip down 300 miles of the Blueridge Mountain Parkway so when Cee announced her photography theme of curves and arches I was ready – I knew just the ones I wanted to use. The speed limit was 35 miles/hour on the Parkway but the road is so curvy that I dare anyone to go faster. It is a slow drive but not a problem because there is so much beauty to see along the way and interesting stops to make.
The Parkway was built as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal to get the U.S. out of the Great Depression and it helped many families get employment in Virginia and Nouth Carolina. It is an unusual National Park because it is basically a long road along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, sometimes only incorporating the road and shoulders with private property blending in with property that was bought by the National Park Service at other places. It really feels like an outdoor museum of the culture and heritage of this region. In one section where property was purchased, The Park Service preserved and rebuilt sections of the narrow-gage rail system that once took lumber down the mountain to the saw mills.
Earlier this year I was thinking that I would enjoy doing a little side trip on a portion of the 469 mile long Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway on our way south. It is such a beautiful drive but it would mean staying out an extra night and I have become pandemic anxious again after being exposed to the virus by a vaccinated friend who got covid-19 from an unvaccinated friend and having a 41 year old unvaccinated nephew die of covid-19.
The next best thing is to go back to photos from our 2014 side trip where we drove 300 miles of the Parkway. I get so much enjoyment from visiting these past trips that I decided to share a couple of my favorites for Becky’s October Squares.
Yes, autumn is in the air, not yet the riot of color we will have in a couple of weeks, but as I drive through the countryside I see the subtle changes that have taken place that say summer is over. My favorite places are the wetlands that have been left uncultivated. It is there that I get the first hints of each new season. Many of the small ponds are covered with thick algae and this color always brings a smile to my face. A daughter calls the green I love on my public room walls “pond scum green.” I have so many of these little memories of family life that bring me joy now that I am in the (late?) autumn of my life.
The colors of early autumn in these wetlands are subtle but taken together create a wonderful palette. Where I took these photos earlier this week, the goldenrod and white asters were scattered in abundance.
Most of the cattails were still their beautiful brown but a few were bursting with abundant hope for the future. Maybe I need to remember them when I hit those moments of “covid fatigue” and burst out my hope for a healthy and social future.
I moved from my favorite marsh and started roaming down the less traveled east/west roads, looking for scenes of autumn color. The color is mostly in the small bushes and wildflowers on country roads, although as we ran our errands in town yesterday, I saw many trees that were starting to color up.
Frequently sumac is early to change into its most brilliant coat of color. I found this one that is in the process of changing. Look at all the various colors – truly a coat of many colors.
I found some small patches of color that are “picture perfect.” I love when color and composition come together in a way that pleases my eye.
With all the small family farms in my countryside, the crops will always reflect our progressions through the seasons. Last spring was really crazy with unseasonal periods of heat and cold interspersed so farmers had a long period between plantings of corn fields. This early gap is being repeated this fall as some fields were harvested a couple of weeks ago and others are still standing, some even showing lingering green.
At the end of October my neighborhood was ablaze with color. This isn’t unusual – what is unusual is that this year I was in Michigan to experience it for the first time… once again. For the past 11 years we have been in Florida from the middle of October to the middle of November. We leave our northern neighborhood just as a few branches of color are showing here and there. Every year I eagerly watch for these small patches of color just as in the spring I eagerly watch for the gentle green of new leaves. We return to Michigan about this time in November to bare trees and the only fallen leaves to be seen are on the floor of wooded areas and on the edges of country roads. We return to Michigan to see what I see outside my windows now as we move close to our Thanksgiving celebration. Skeleton trees bare of leaves.
But I am still thinking about the past three weeks and am so thankful for being able to experience them. We had a really warm early November so I spent a lot of time outdoors taking photos and raking (well, more time photographing than raking). I was seeing autumn in my neighborhood through the eyes of someone living in the southern United States. I was seeing autumn from a macro perspective because it felt so exotic.
I noticed how the tree full of golden orange leave (first photo) in our side yard had a few bare limbs, exposing seedpods that are hanging on long after thousands of them dropped in early summer. When I was a child we called them whirly-gigs and would toss them in the air to watch them twirl to the ground. One of the wonders of nature. Next spring I will be pulling up small maple tree seedlings from my garden beds.
It is so amazing how many leaves are on a full-grown tree. The tree can be covered with brilliant leaves and still, underneath the ground is covered.
We needed to rake these up because the grass had grown during the warm days and the man who mows our lawn was coming the next day. We also went for a walk and both Jim and I moved to the east side of the street so we could walk through the dry, fallen oak leaves blown there by the wind. Oak leaves are the most fun to walk through because they are big and make lots of crinkling sounds when we do that special kind of shuffle-walk that we learned as children walking to school.
In a few days the weather turned colder, more seasonal, and the wind blew hard. As I drove down the country road on my way to somewhere, the leaves were whirling in circles on the road and leaves were falling so heavily that it sometimes made me wonder if I would have to turn on the wipers to see. Then I laughed at myself. What joy.