By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Autumn is my favorite season. It always has been. But I don’t think I realized just how much I missed it until I didn’t have it anymore.
In Texas, you really only have two seasons – the “it’s too hot to do anything outdoors” season and the “it’s too rainy to do anything outdoors” season. Otherwise temperatures rarely dip low enough to impact plants too much. Leaves have a better chance of turning brown in the heat of summer than they do during the mild and rainy winter. The plus side of this is that gardens can stay rather productive most of the year round with good irrigation. Plants that are considered annuals here can survive as perennials in the Texas climate. I once had a jalapeño pepper plant that I kept alive for several years; to the point that the potted plant had a thick, sturdy, almost wood-like stem and I considered training it as a bonsai.
In Colorado you have the opposite problem. Seasons there are divided into “way too much snow” and “it feels nice, but I’m still worried it might snow.” I was actually forced to stop due to a snowstorm when I was in the process of moving to the state – on May 1. Snows can start again as early as September. Growing seasons are so short you can barely get plants to flower before the season ends. Many of the plants I’d grown for years in Texas died when I moved to Denver, and that was with giving away most of those that require a warm climate to thrive.
But as much as I love gardening, what I really missed were the sights, smells and flavors of the fall. The shortening of the days and the slow turning of the leaves; the smells of cured hay and of apple butter cooking in a kettle over an open fire; the taste of sumac lemonade and perfectly ripe pawpaws; these are things that defined so much of who I was, and that I didn’t really appreciate until I didn’t have them.
Now, when the days get cooler and the leaves start to change, I make it a point to drive several rural routes through the county and they never fail to offer spectacular views of the changing leaves. They’re gorgeous drives year round, but the daily changes in leaf color mean I always get a fresh view in the fall. I know some folks like to travel to other areas for the fall foliage show, but with our diveristy of trees and the juxtaposition of open farm fields and wooded hills, I’d pit Carter County’s leaf displays against any of those other tourist drives any time.
Since returning to Kentucky I make it a point to enjoy what each of the four distinct seasons offer. But fall always has, and always will, hold a special place in my heart, and I’ll never take it for granted again.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org