Posts Tagged ‘Fall Foliage’

On My Own

October 31, 2011



I’ve been talking all week about taking pictures, about this weekend being the final one before all the leaves are gone. I’ve mentioned several times how pretty I bet the countryside is going to be. I’ve said I want to spend some time this weekend taking pictures.  I didn’t go yesterday, it rained and snowed. Today was Sunday, the last day of the weekend. It was now or never.  

When I got up this morning, Bruce was busy gathering his lawn maintenance equipment, gas cans, short little keys to the mowing machines on the trailer he pulls behind the truck. As he does every day of the week, he planned to work.

The sky was bright, clear with a few white puffy clouds. A slight breeze blew in from the north, and the leaves were on their way to becoming the gold and brown of past peak. After yesterday’s weather, it’s definitely the last weekend for colorful reflection. When the wind blows this week, leaves will rain off the trees.

“I’m headed to the doctor’s office in Crozet to mow and get up leaves,” Bruce announced on his way out the door. See you later this afternoon.”

I stood dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe it.

After growling low in my throat and pulling my hair in frustration, I charged my batteries, put the camera in my pocket and stomped to the car. My plans included a trip to Mint Springs, Sugar Hollow, and Beaver Creek Dam. I wouldn’t be home until later this afternoon either. To heck with laundry, dusting, dishes, toilets, sinks and tubs. The winter wardrobe could just hibernate in its plastic tub one more week. The boys wear shorts all winter anyway.

I sped through Crozet ten miles over the speed limit before the colors of my purpose slowed me, calmed me enough to notice them. The mountains to my west pulled me to their reds and yellows. The blue sky met them on the horizon to make a palette of primary colors and their secondary offshoots of orange, green and purple.

Mint Springs is closest to home and the sun was still low in the east. I’ve been admiring a barn for the past year, but the light hasn’t been right when I’ve been there. It was my first stop, and I was feeling adventurous. I don’t usually break rules. When Bruce does, I get nervous, stand back, and worry about getting caught. I’m not a good Bonnie to his Clyde.  My heart beats fast; and I hesitate.

Today, on my own and angry in my independence, I stepped around the locked chain and no trespassing sign guarding the barn and the orchard to the west of Mint Springs Park. What could happen to me? I had no gun, was only armed with a camera, and all the apples had already been harvested. Not a soul was in sight, but I didn’t care either way. I took my time, and found the angle I needed with the sun behind me. On the other side of the red barn with its rusted roof sat an equally rusted hulk of a truck, its steering wheel open to the air, its engine and tires missing. A highway of weeds stretched out in front of it. In the distance, an abandoned gray hornet’s nest, clung to a bare apple tree branch. Pay dirt.

Back at Mint Springs’ lower lake, I surprised a young couple as they walked their dogs through the woods on the edge of the tree line.  “Beautiful day,” I announced as they walked past me.

“Oh hi,” the girl said.

“Great day to get out and enjoy the leaves, huh?” the boy said.

“Sure is,” I said. What I didn’t say was, “I’m glad you saw fit to accompany your other half on an outing today. Glad you didn’t have grass to cut and weeds to pull and parking lots to sweep.”

I got in the car and drove the ten miles farther west to Sugar Hollow. Halfway there, a pine tree lay in the road blocking my path. Several cars had parked on this side, their passengers obviously deterred. I wasn’t.  Making sure there were no oncoming cars, I swerved to the other side of the road and drove through the top of the pine, paying little attention to the branches as they scraped the side of the car. “Let Bruce polish them out,” I said to no one in the passenger seat.

I stopped at the bridges and snapped the river. I parked at the reservoir, walked down the hill and took some shots of the huge split rock. I walked down the path, and sat on the bank overlooking the lake. Following the shoreline, I took pictures of a duck swimming in the distance.

“Hi,” a man sitting in the sun behind the windbreak of a boulder said.

“Oh, you scared me,” I said putting my hand to my heart.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to. Getting some good shots?” he asked.

“Beautiful,” I said.

“You should have been here yesterday evening with the snow under these trees. It was magnificent.”

“I bet,” I said, wondering where his other half was. “Any luck with the fish?”

“Nope, too windy, I think.”

When my heart got its beat back to normal, I headed up the bank to the main road and back to the car. I still had one more stop.

Beaver Creek Dam is three miles from home. Local boys launch their boats from the shore and spend all day fishing from one end of the lake to the other. When I arrived, I was the only one parked in the lot. The sun was at such an angle, I had to walk to the south and into the shade of some trees to avoid glare on the water. As I stepped along the edge, my shoes squeaked in the wet grass. Yesterday’s freak snow had left its moisture behind. Frogs plunked into the water from a half-submerged log, and birds rustled in the dry leaves of the cat tails.  When I reached my destination, I looked in the distance to see a couple of young men in a flat bottom boat fishing along the bank. One of them waved to me, before the boat turned left into a shady inlet. I thought about our boat at home in the garage. Today would have been a perfect day to take her out.

It was three-thirty when I pulled into the driveway. I had two hundred seventy-nine photos stored on the memory card. My feet were muddy along with the seat of my pants from sliding down an embankment at Sugar Hollow. My face was pink with windburn and my muscles were tired from all the walking I did. I was calm though, most of my anger having been exercised. I leaned back in the car seat and closed my eyes.

I awoke to a peck on the window.

“Where you been?” Bruce mouthed.

I turned the switch and lowered my window.  “Where haven’t I been?” I said. “Mint Springs, Sugar Hollow, Beaver Creek Dam.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you were going?” he asked. “I could have gone with you.”

“You had work to do,” I accused.

“Shoot,” he said, “that could have waited until tomorrow.”

I closed my eyes and shook my head as I was reminded just one more time that men don’t take hints. They need a billboard and at least three reminders.