Favorite Season

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Sep 302009
 
Blue Ridge Parkway Viaduct

Blue Ridge Parkway Viaduct

OK, I know that about this time every year I write something about Autumn being my favorite time of year. I know, Tampa, FL is not the place to be thinking about Autumn. I think we get our Autumn here in January, the time of year when these nasty live oaks dump a big portion of their leaves. Still, there is a rhythm that comes with the seasons no matter where one lives, and I love this time of year for the sense of “settling-in.”

There is always the hold-over of the school cycle when students and school employees all head back to their routines. The Summer vacation season is mostly over, and people start getting back into regular routines. With grandparents who were a farm family, I’m familiar with that time of year when the cash crops and the garden vegetables are all “coming in.” Lots of picking and canning going on.

A cool front has come through to help me at least pretend Fall has arrived here in Tampa (at least for a couple days).

Then, if one lives in the right region, there are the colors of Fall. The Piedmont North Carolina region where I grew up can boast of a beautiful Fall, but nothing compares with the Appalachian Mountains for a spectacular display. I do miss not being able to get to the mountains more.

The huge old oaks around Mom's

Fall Colors in Shelby, N.C.

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Oct 092005
 

Autumn has officially arrived. As usual it’s a little hard to tell here in Tampa. However, we got a couple of overcast rainy days this past week. That made it a little cooler, and made me think of Fall.

I think autumn is my favorite time of year. Coming from the western part of North Carolina, and having gone to college at Appalachian State University in the northwest corner of the corner, I have seen some beautiful shows of fall colors. I have literally had my breath taken away while driving up the mountains to Boone and Blowing Rock returning to school, or looking off some of the overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

As stunning as the colors are, I think its much of the other things about this time of year that appeal to me. My mom was the school system nurse for thirty plus years in my home town, and at one point in my life, I worked for a few years as a representative for a yearbook publishing company. So for many years, that “school schedule” was an important part of life. It is a time of settling in and getting back to routine.

My granddaddy was a cotton farmer, so the cotton would be coming in, and my mom and grandmother would be “putting up” corn, green beans, and vegetable soup. I remember a few early Saturday mornings going with Granddaddy to the cotton gin. I’d dig a hole in the cotton in the front corner of the trailer, and off we’d go with the big red Farmall tractor chugging along down the road. And that old cotton gin was an amazing place for me. I especially love the big vacuum tube that sucked the cotton out of the trailer.

Even now I feel like the business environment changes around this time of year. People sort of get serious again, and start paying more attention. Vacations are over, budget time starts, and you’re in the last quarter of the year.

The days start getting shorter and the mornings a bit cooler (even here in Florida sometimes). Back in my hometown you’d step out in the evenings and often catch the smell of burning leaves. People outside the city limits raked their leaves to the side of the road, and burned them. Football season goes into full swing. I was in the band, so each Friday night was a big deal during high school. And there’s nothing more beautiful than the big mountain covered with hardwoods rising above the end of the stadium at ASU draped in Fall colors.

Even when I was in college I was a resident assistant in a freshman dormitory, so not only was it a time for me to start back to school, it was the time to help thirty plus freshmen get off to a good start at college, and experience all the excitement of meeting new people.

So fall is a time that brings back lots of nice memories for me. Part is that agrarian attitude of brining in the crops and preparing for winter; part is that getting back to school with friends and routine; and a lot is the beauty that I know is so much a part of fall in North Carolina. I can see it in my mind, even here in Tampa.

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