It’s September. The kids are back in school, football season is starting, and it won’t be long before we’ll be needing a sweater in the morning. It’s almost fall in the mountains – my favorite time of year.
As the calendar flipped over to September yesterday and we all celebrated Labor Day the temperatures were still hovering in the 80’s but my mind was already racing ahead to those crisp fall days that are just around the corner. I love that time of year when I can smell wood smoke coming from the fireplace and hear the sound of leaves crunching under my boots. Fall means football on Sunday afternoons and a pot of spicy chili on the stove. It also happens to be, in my opinion, the most beautiful time of year here in the mountains of western North Carolina.
I grew up in Virginia where we enjoyed four distinct seasons like we do here in western North Carolina. After living in Florida for over 30 years though, I had all but forgotten the beauty of spring and the colors of fall. All that changed though when we relocated here to the Brevard area. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring. The flowers and trees are beautiful and there is something special about the sense of renewal as we come out of the winter months. But spring is still the season that leads into summer, my least favorite time of year. But fall….oh how I love driving the mountain roads in the fall. Every turn in the road is a different shade of gorgeous. There is a particular stretch of Hwy. 64 up near Sapphire, NC that never ceases to take my breath away and I always feel particularly blessed on those days when the falling leaves and a gentle breeze create a shower of color all around me. Fall is the time of year when some of my favorite foods are at their best. Turnip greens in particular call my name this time of year as do apples. Lucky for us, we live in the area of North Carolina that produces the most apples in the entire state and is the 7th largest growing area in the whole country. If you are visiting the area this fall, there’s nothing like a cool afternoon spent picking your own apples at places like Grandad’s Apples ‘n Such or Stepps Orchard over in Hendersonville.
It won’t be long before we start to see dried corn husks and pumpkins on porches and talk turns to Halloween…and then Thanksgiving. Perhaps that is another reason I love fall. It lasts longer than other seasons, includes Thanksgiving, and then blends into winter, my second favorite time of year. As winter rolls around, that means birthdays, Christmas, and before you know it, we’re starting a new year. Spring won’t be poking it’s head up again until April.
Every day now I look for the subtle signs that signal the change of season. I look for shadows that are longer, days that are shorter, and the restaurants and grocery stores that are less crowded because our seasonal residents have gone home. Then comes the day when I notice how dry the air feels and how nice it is to sit on the front porch in my favorite sweater watching dappled sunlight through yellow leaves.