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SMITH: Georgia breaking out fall colors

Features column

Loran Smith

Loran Smith

October is here and so is the anticipation of the turning of the leaves. It is the fall which is perhaps the most comforting time of the year. Although the blooms of spring are spectacular, the side effects of pollen season are often too much to manage.

Allergies trouble many of us in the spring and the fall. For me, it’s the pollen that I have to guard against, which often makes spring a time when there is that eternal worry. As pretty as the flowers are and as important as pollination is, I have the greatest contempt for Mother Nature when she showers the countryside — and my car — with a thick layer of pollen, and then some.

The fall is my favorite time of the year. More often than not, we get that comfortable weather — a wrap in the early morning, comfortable easy-on-the-spirits temperatures during the day, and a gratifying and sobering fire in the evening.

Last weekend was more in touch with summer than fall, but I could not resist. I built that first fire. Along about Labor Day, I think about that first fire and am always in a supercalifragilistic mood when the fireplace is finally engaged. Don’t know what the doctors would say, but it is my view that a good fire in the fall helps ward off becoming superannuated.

What gives us a greater lift than seeing the leaves turn in October in balmy temperatures? I have been to Vermont in the fall, and I like it. Such splendor, such emotional fulfillment. The view is overwhelming. You literally inhale what appears before your eyes. You stand in awe of Mother Nature displaying her most emotionally stimulating handiwork. Surely she had nothing to do with the deserts and the jungles. If she did, it was like an artist painting a bad picture, just once. She saved her best for the mountains, the lakes and the trees.

It would be hard to argue that no place has more brilliance when it comes to autumnal color than Vermont, but who can take off and get to Vermont on short notice? If you live in Georgia, fall color is within two hours for most residents. North Georgia has some of the most beautiful fall scenery you can find.

Take a drive up to Blue Ridge from anywhere and you are smitten by the North Georgia hardwoods and their resplendent color. Small towns will soon be showing off their harvest scenes and if you know where to find it, somebody will have wild trout on the menu for dinner. Humility takes over in the fall. You can’t brush up against nature in the fall without being grateful and humble.

Fall is a time when many school kids take on science projects that sometimes have to do with the leaves changing their color. Many of us learned in school why the leaves turn this time of the year. From the Internet, you can refresh yourself with the facts about the leaves changing their color.

“As summer ends and autumn comes, the days get shorter and shorter. This is how the trees “know” to begin getting ready for winter. During winter, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will rest and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves. As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange (and red and rust) colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can’t see them in summer because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll.”

Every season of the year brings something special to enjoy. Even when it is cold and damp outside in winter, we can look forward to the spring when the flowers will remind us how wonderfully Mother Nature blesses us. I always look forward to spring, but usually my focus is in fast-forwarding mode, looking ahead to the fall. It is about here and that “can’t wait” anticipation has come to pass. Glory, Glory.