Monday, August 29, 2011

Before, During and After the Fall

White Mountains, NH 
Every year I make a trek to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and another to Cape Cod, MA some time during the fall. As a life-long New Englander, although the season of "colors" brings and end to summer; to the hazy, hot and humid days with temperatures approaching 100, there is something wonderful about the crisp morning air of an October morning.

The week the roaming Kingdom Bloggers are writing about fall. As residents of the northern hemisphere, the warm days of summer are coming to a close; air conditioners switched off, fans packed in the attic, and days beckoning a walk among the hardwoods - yes, fall is nearly upon us.

I have traveled quite extensively over the years. I have racked up 42 US states along with about 40 national and state parks, as well as 13 countries - with more on my radar. For nearly 4 months in 1989 I drove across the US (and a bit in Canada and Mexico). It was one of those listless times in my life. I had an injury at work a few years earlier, ending my career as both a musician and a carpenter. I had spent 2 years just hanging on while I went to art school. In the midst I had a car accident which made it impossible to work at all. Finally, I received an insurance check, my doctor told me that I was lucky to be walking and gave me a clean bill of health.

Cape Cod Light, MA
In July we put everything in storage that we didn't sell at the flea market, and dropped our other car in friends driveway. I loaded up the car top carrier with camping gear and the trunk with film and cameras. In the back seat was my 2-year-old and an ice chest.

All along my route I kept thinking. "if I find somewhere nice, we can just move there." As I shifted my Toyota Carolla into second gear, I felt a rush of adrenaline and headed north for the coast of Maine. I crossed the northern most ranges of the Appalachians, camped at Niagara Falls, and drove though the wine country on the shores of the Great Lakes.

It was still summer as I made my way west to the Badlands; led by the a bajillion Wall Drug signs along the way. The High Plains turned into the Rockies and soon we rounded the corner to Yellowstone National Park where we enjoyed a snow storm in early August.

North to Glacier National Park and Banff, and then west to the Olympic Peninsula via Hell's Canyon. In September I recorded the trek from Victoria, BC to Tijuana, Mexico taking in thousands of miles of Pacific Coast and the city of San Francisco.

Sea Smoke
It was nearly October as I made my way east; the first glimpse of fall as the aspens shown a blazing yellow against the backdrop of red rock in the American Southwest. We cruised through norther Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, only to stop for a pair of cowboy boots in Amarillo.

Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville became a blur as our pace quickened and our homesickness grew... Skyline Drive was a brief respite in the dizzying array of the tens of thousands of Interstate exit signs we had passed under as we rolled along.

Cranberry Harvest
A few days later we were "home", the leaves turning a bold palette of red, orange, and yellow. The crisp dry air contrasted with the heat from the car vent. The sea smoke on the placid waters of Pleasant Bay, the smell of cranberries in the air - yes, this I what I love about fall. What a glorious greeting we had that early morning.

That night I got on my knees and thanked God for a safe trip (all 20,000 miles!), and for being home - for the sunshine, the salt air and the indescribable colors.

In a few short weeks, I will lay in bed having a morning cup of coffee with my wife, and out each one of the three windows in our bedroom, God will create a masterpiece among the maple trees.

Yes, fall is what makes New England home.

1 comment:

  1. You make me soooo homesick for New England!

    I didn't know you had been to the Badlands... as much as I hated South Dakota, it should be on everyone's bucket list to see the Badlands and Mount Rushmore - and while you there, you might as well get free water at Wall Drug :) Oh and their donuts are delicious.

    ReplyDelete

Please keep comments appropriate