Finding Fall

I love Fall. It feels like such a short season, but it makes up for brevity with a wild abandon of color, scents, and emotions. It’s like Nature’s last, wild fling before taking a much-needed winter vacation. I have memories of “Fall” from my childhood in the S. Texas Hill Country, but, given how typically hot it is there year around, I sometimes wonder if I just imagined those beautiful, free fall days of my youth. I guess I’ll never know for sure. But one of the most wonderful things about being a displaced Texan living in Virginia has to be that I get to see Fall, in all its glory, every year.

Looking for Fall in the “wilds” of Virginia

So my family and I set out last weekend to look for “Fall” in the wilds of Virginia. OK, so I guess Virginia doesn’t really count as “wild” since there are so many people living in this little state … but we headed out into the country, anyhow. Final destination: Shenandoah National Park, where we were sure we would find enough fall color to astound our senses and satiate our longing for this briefest of all the seasons.

Along the way, we stopped off in Sperryville. It’s more accurate to say we were lured off the main road by the amazing sight of several beautiful fire trucks all lined up together on the grass in front of the fire house. All those vibrant, shiny reds and whites against the lush green of the grass and the deeply cool blue of the fall sky … It was irresistible!

Bell on  the front of a fire truck.

Detail of a fire truck bell.

It turned out that the Fire Department was having its annual Open House. One of the firemen showed my daughter all around the fire house. She got to climb up into the trucks and run the sirens, and she got awesome fireman swag, too. This is a nearly unbelievable amount of awesomeness for a kid. And I think my husband was pretty enamored, too. Big, shiny trucks, sirens, and flashing lights — what’s not to love?

But, we were on the hunt for “fall”. And so, after a brief sojourn, we piled back into the car and continued on our way. And soon, we arrived at our destination: Shenandoah National Park.

You can see the whole valley from the various look-out points along Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah National Park has to be one of the most amazing things I’ve seen since moving to Virginia. It is truly a treasure. There’s something astounding and awe-inspiring about standing at the various look-out points along Skyline Drive and seeing the entire valley laid out before you. It feels like you’re looking down at the whole world, contained in a little, green jewel of a bowl gouged out of the mountains by some unseen, benevolent force.

Some of the “fall color” we were seeking. Rich golds and oranges.

And we even saw a little bit of the fall color we were searching for. Vivid oranges and yellows stood out in stark contrast to the deeper greens of Summer.

The Shenandoah River, winding along in the distance.

It was breathtaking and beautiful. Tame and, yet, also somehow wild and free. And yet … I couldn’t help but feel something was missing. After all, I had envisioned rolling hills full of scarlets and golds and oranges, tumbling wildly around each other, screaming FALL!! right in my face. That’s not what I found. In spite of the beauty of the valley laid out before me, I felt … disappointed.

And then … I looked around and realized …

Fall grass, touched by late afternoon sunshine.

I had found Fall! It was right there with me, in so many little ways. Like the way the sunlight glinted off of the grass, giving it a soft, golden glow.

Beautiful yellow (almost golden) leaves, getting ready to fall from their branches.

Or the bright yellows of the leaves,  just before they fall from the trees.

Acorns

A little “woodland scene”. Were the squirrels here just before us?

Or the soft browns and mossy greens of a little forest scene — almost like the squirrels arranged this for us to see.

Red Vine

Vibrantly red even in shadow, these vines snake around almost everything. Probably not so great for the stuff growing under them, but they are really pretty.

Or in the rich red of a vine, slowly creeping across a backdrop of gray rock.

Beautifully purple flowers. I was surprised at how vibrant their coloring was.

Or the surprising, rich jewel tones of the little flowers that seem to wait until Fall to “show off” to the rest of the universe — as if they are shouting out, “Hey! Over here!! Look at me!”

And so I left Shenandoah National Park and headed home. I felt humbled by the vastness and beauty of the world around me. And happy that I had managed to find “Fall” — even better in its realness than the imagined seasons of my childhood.

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2 thoughts on “Finding Fall

  1. It really IS a blog of loveliness!! 🙂 Your photos and your words are inspiring. I love the shot of the fall grasses best of all. Really really beautiful. Great job! Can’t wait to see more. 🙂

  2. Awww, thanks so much Shell!! *HUGHUGHUG* I’m so happy you enjoyed the photos and my “photo-essay” entry. And I’m totally excited because I got a comment. Woo Hoo!! =D

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