Autumn = Fall

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Pine Mountain, Georgia

Finally at the end of November a frost has descended on my home, turning the emerald zoysia into a golden carpet.  However my yard still appears quite green and lush.  The bougainvilleas hang with heavy clusters of lilac flowers on my trellis. The Mexican heather is covered with migrating butterflies. Even my tender banana tree is still green. A few trees have lost their leaves, but that was only noticed by the child who had to rake them.  Their nakedness is generally cloaked by Spanish moss and clusters of mistletoe.  The overall effect is that autumn in Savannah is not the fiery-hued explosion of foliage like in the rest of the country, but instead a gradual fading to olive green.  The live oaks, which canopy this city, will cling to their leaves until spring.

Isle of Hope in Savannah, photographed on November 23th. I was impressed by the incredible greeness of Bluff Drive.

This presented an interesting dilemma as I tried to teach my younger children about the seasons.  I explained that autumn is also called “fall” because, in most places, the leaves will turn bright colors and fall off of the trees.  My younger children seemed perplexed.  Their responses were generally along the line of “You’re kidding, right?”  Of course they have  seen colored leaves, but to them a colored leaf is equivalent to a dead leaf, and not something to define an entire season.  I knew it was time for a field trip.

Where could we take our children to experience fall foliage within about 4 hour drive?  We could not take them to New England, where the maples and oaks are unequalled in their brilliance.  We had to choose a location that was a little further north and a little higher in elevation.  We decided to take the children tent camping at FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, Georgia. It was the last weekend of October.

Callaway Gardens at Pine Mountain, Georgia

Visiting a state park has got to be one of the best vacation values there is.  Our experience has been that the facilities are always terrific, the setting is scenic, and park rangers are probably the nicest people on earth.  While there are a variety of activities available at different  parks, I have often found my children to be thoroughly entertained by exploring the rustic park and playing freely around the campsite.

Biking at Callaway Gardens

We only had three nights to squeeze in memories and fun.  We spent one full day biking through Callaway Gardens. We explored the extensive gardens where “Victory Gardens South” is filmed, and the butterfly pavilion, where exotic butterflies are housed indoors and native, wild butterflies are plentiful outside.  Callaway Gardens is noteworthy for the large variety of trees and native plants that grow there.  While there is golf and housing available at Callaway Gardens, it is very low key and does not intrude on the landscaping.

Seven of my nine.

 

On our second day, we traveled south to Providence Canyon, another state park that is absolutely, positively in the middle of nowhere.  What a surprise awaited us there!  Poor farming practices in the 1800’s led to severe erosion that carved a significant canyon in the land. The result is a “Mini Grand Canyon” of vivid, colored strata of soil.  There is a 7-mile, strenuous backpacking trail available and a 3-mile, strenuous hiking trail.  We took the three mile trail, but it wasn’t strenuous at all. The only challenge was a strong possibility of getting your feet quite muddy when crossing creek beds.  Even my two-year-old and four-year-old found the trail manageable, and were only carried when they became too distracted by the mud puddles.

Providence Canyon

Long-abandoned car, captured by the woods. More ecologically sound to leave it.

Our final night of camping provided an opportunity for the children to go on a hayride at FDR State Park.  The popularity of hayrides baffles me, but to my little guys it was one of their “favorite things ever”. It served to remind me that I must not underestimate the significance of even small experiences in the memories of my children.

One of the advantages to the four-hour limit on our drive was that it enabled us to attend morning worship at a church in Columbus (where we happened to run in to some dear friends- an added bonus!), and make it home in time to attend evening worship at our home church in Savannah. It is good to be with the Lord’s people on Sunday!

As I sat next to my children in church I could see remnants of twigs and leaves in their hair and smell the fragrance of campfire smoke.  I felt confident that the dirt would wash off, but also hopeful that our immersion into the leaves of autumn would serve as the fertile ground for my children’s sweet memories to flourish.

Time together and time outdoors.

Fall leaves… One of those things you’ve just got to see for yourself.

Comments (0) Nov 27 2012