The blessings tied to living in the Appalachians are many, but perhaps none rival the change of seasons from summer to fall. No matter the number of autumns one is blessed to live in the High Country of North Carolina, the allure of this time of year falls somewhere between awe-inspiring and heart-stirring. The images on this page, taken by the author along the Blue Ridge Parkway and parts nearabout, give but a glimpse of why it’s a privilege to live in a world where magical Octobers talk to you.
Summer’s warmth has only just recently passed. Invigorating daytime temps slide into the 60s, then the 50s, and occasionally touch the 40s upon darkness and through the early morning dew. Crisp mornings bring out long-sleeved shirts and flannels, and nighttime reminds us that it’s okay to live in sweatpants and sweatshirts. Pumpkins appear on roadside stands along with cider, apple butter, crafts and other goodies. Gusty winds bring porch chimes to their resonating peak. Fall-scented candles deliver their unmistakable bouquet, as do all-things-pumpkin-spice. Fall festivals dot weekend agendas. Corn mazes pop up in fields. It’s time to prepare the fire pit and the woodpile and ensure a stash of hot chocolate and ingredients for s’mores is in the pantry. And fall’s family-based holidays — Halloween and Thanksgiving — kindle calendar-planning discussions amongst kith and kin.
Autumn Is My Favorite Color
Everywhere one looks, sunburnt leaves are putting on a show worthy of the finest kaleidoscope. Blazing scarlets, warm oranges, golden yellows, crisp browns. Every leaf is seemingly a brilliant flower competing for best-in-show in their last days on their hosts. It’s as if an Old Master has dipped his brush in a rainbow and swept it across a pallet that reaches toward the skies in a riot of colors. Heaven’s cloudless October-sky canopy is bluer than a sapphire. There is wondrous beauty in every direction.
Seemingly as quickly as the magic of the leaves’ radiance reaches its zenith, the maestro who is Mother Nature builds her High Country symphony to a grand finale. Leaves begin to drop — first a leaf here or there, then dozens at a time, then in waves — fluttering down in showers of colors, soaring and dancing on now windy days. As the majesty of the trees begins to lose their “coat of many colors,” beauty is transferred to the landscape below. Leaves rustle along the streets, carpeting a countryside mural of rolling hills, lakes and creeks in a seemingly never-ending cascade of moving colors. An unknown author once penned, “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”
There is never a bad time to be a guest of the High Country and our magnificent Appalachian / Allegheny / Blue Ridge Mountains. But I’m partial to the arresting beauty that unfolds each autumn. Next year, y’all come.
LSomerbyCooke Addendum …