Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bittersweet is so difficult to find anymore. Once growing abudantly on fencerows, it has been largely eradicated by road crews spraying herbicides along roadsides. I found this bittersweet scrambling 20 feet up a rough old tree.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Last & Best of the Season: 2006 Fairfield Co. Fair

Autumn in Fairfield County means golden fields of ripened corn and soybeans,
leaves in rusty orange, yellow, bronze, red and olive green.
Farmers with big, slow loads leading parades on country roads.
Bright, azure skies, gray storms, honey-colored days and frost on the pumpkins.
The smell of cool, damp earth, apple cider, chrysanthemums, corn dogs and elephant ears.
Corn dogs and elephant ears?
Don't they belong to summer?
In Fairfield County they belong to Autumn because our fair is the last one in the state of Ohio.
There are few sights more beautiful than the one from atop the Ferris Wheel on a bright autumn day, overlooking the city of Lancaster and it's church steeples, old homes, and brightly colored, tree-lined streets. A view accompanied by the sound of people laughing and merry-go-round music, marching bands, cows and horses and "step right up ladies...".
It's a treat for all the senses: there's nothing like the taste and smell of greasy fair french fries, sticky cotton candy, pungent horseradish piled on a sausage sandwich and stubborn taffy powdered with corn starch.
At the end of the day, the crowds trudge home, with sore feet, full bellies and tired eyes, but glad for the experience and eager for next year's great fair.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Many people look forward to the flaming Fall change of the leaves, which is still a few weeks away as I write this. They venture from the four walls of their homes to view the foliage, take a few snapshots and chatter about the beauty for a few weeks. All fine and good, but I prefer to roll in the lushness all year round.
I am blessed to live in at the edge of the Hocking Hills.
Winters are cold and damp, grey-blue skies etched by dark, skeletal limbs stretching out, attempting to draw a little warmth from the distant sun. Morning windowsills are touched by frost's artistic fingertips, puddles and slow creeks crusted over with thin ice. When deep Winter visits, people breath a sigh of relief: the snow is reassurance that the season is progressing as prescribed and the muddiness of wet winter is dressed up in a cloak of glistening white. Just when another day of winter cannot be borne, little sprouts of green ooze through dull bark and buds of Snow Drops, Crocus and Daffodil burst free of the cold ground. Suddenly the hills are alive! Spring births pale greens, bright greens, decked out in blossoms of yellow, white, blushing pink. After the blooms fall to confetti, the greens mature, become deeper, more intense, like a young man's voice. The fallen blossoms have left round swellings that will also mature into fruits of many colors and sizes.
Summer is exciting. Thunderstorms toss the leaves and fruit bearing and evening breezes rustling the leaves to life. Summer is the time to step out, inhale the green, try to count the endless shades of green, and enjoy the harmony of thousands of locusts as they emerge from the earth, clinging to the trees, singing for joy to be alive.
Then late Summer and early Autumn stride confidently onto the scene. Again the shades of green change, shaded with yellow, brown, turning olive and bronze. The crickets take up their song all day long now. In the daytime, calling fast and frantic, at night becoming lazier lotharios, stroking slow and easy.
It's this early Autumn that enchants me most. The mature green landscape is generously freckled with golds and dark reds, while a few flashy oranges dare to peek through. Fence rows are laden with bright red rose hips, shy bittersweet, and clusters of tiny berries ranging from white to purple. Drifts of rich goldenrod and royal purple aster border maturing soybean fields, fill roadsides and harvested fields. Stepping into the early Autumn woods is the greatest sensory thrill. I brush my hands across velvet green moss, pluck leathery leaves and rub them on my cheeks, inhale the damp earth, nibble a sharp pine needle, listen to the desperate crickets and the flocks of birds racing through the outstretched hardwood branches. Late afternoons are honey-colored, as the sun passes on a more southerly course and sundown looms closer at 4 PM than it did a month ago.
This is the Season that speaks to my soul. My travel is slower, to compensate for the racing of my heart as I joyfully take in the burst of color, sound and smell that is My FavoriteTime Of The Year. The taste of freshly pressed apple cider, from the orchard up the road, embodies all of it one golden gulp.
By the time the city slickers and the shutterbugs descend upon the Hills, I've become so high with the season that the flamboyant oranges, rusts, bronzes, maroons, blood reds and golds send me into delirium and as the last leaf falls and the gawkers trudge home, I drift into a doze of technicolor dreams.