It’s OK to be a leafer

The Covington News - - Opinion -

One of my col­leagues asked this week, in a sort of rhetor­i­cal way, why peo­ple make the an­nual pil­grim­age to the moun­tains to look at leaves.

It’s a good ques­tion.

A few weeks from now the roads lead­ing to the moun­tains will be filled with folks from all over.

Be­fore any­body jumps all over me, I ad­mit I do it, too.

We will drive and look at a part of a tree that is dy­ing and is about to fall to the ground.

If you went to a gar­den cen­ter in the spring and they had dy­ing plants, you’d prob­a­bly turn around and leave.

But if you go to the moun­tains and you see dy­ing leaves, you keep go­ing to look at more of them.

We also will gripe like crazy when the high tem­per­a­ture is 32 de­grees and the wind is blow­ing at about 40 miles an hour. The first nip in the air, how­ever, does some­thing to our psy­che and makes us yearn for au­tumn leaves, hot cider and caramel ap­ples.

I love this time of the year. The au­tum­nal crisp­ness in the air is some­thing we wish could be bot­tled and pulled out on a swel­ter­ing night in the mid­dle of dog days.

The sea­son also brings us to moun­tain fairs and fes­ti­vals. We act as if we’ve never seen a Ma­son jar filled with sorghum syrup or have ever tasted a boiled peanut. The rit­ual is re­peated yearly.

It must get more ap­peal­ing when you get older. The road to the moun­tains is filled with sil­ver-haired folks in their Buicks and Mer­curys. Many of them ven­ture to the same ho­tel or inn, eat at the same restau­rants and in pre­vi­ous years, bought gas at the same sta­tions.

As I inch closer to reach­ing that point of cross­ing over the Jor­dan River, I find my­self yearn­ing for that drive to the moun­tains. We don’t have any lit­tle kids at home, but we’ll still go and buy a pump­kin.

I don’t want to get into a de­bate about how this world started, but when I ven­ture to a moun­tain vista and look out at the in­cred­i­ble shapes of the sprawl­ing peaks, the colors of the chang­ing leaves and the flow­ing creeks and rivers down in the val­ley, I can’t help but be­lieve it didn’t hap- pen by ac­ci­dent.

We are re­ally for­tu­nate to live in a place where we have chang­ing sea­sons and spec­tac­u­lar scenery.

If you live in some parts of the West, the land­scape doesn’t change very much. They have two tem­per­a­tures, hot and hot­ter with two lev­els of hu­mid­ity, dry and drier.

I’ve been to Ari­zona and folks use cac­tus for land­scap­ing. About the only thing a cac­tus is good for is pro­vid­ing a back­drop for your sou­venir pic­ture. If you stand in front of a cac­tus, they’ll know where you’ve been.

Some­where in the great pile of fam­ily pic­tures is a shot of me and my brother stand­ing in Chero­kee, N.C., next to a guy wear­ing an In­dian head­dress. We’re hold­ing gen­uine rub­ber In­dian tom­a­hawks that were made by tribal leaders in Ja­pan. It’s a moun­tain thing.

For what­ever makes us love it, we wel­come fall. En­joy it while it’s here.

Har­ris Black­wood, a na­tive of So­cial Cir­cle, is on the ed­i­to­rial board of The Gainesville Times. Send e-mail to hblack­wood@gainesvil­letimes.

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