It's one of the things I like most about the Ozark Mountains. I remember how taken back I was by it when I first moved out here from Southern California in the Autumn of 1993. It's something we just never really got to see on the lower West Coast. If you asked me what my favourite season was before 1993, I would have always told you summer. The hot dry California air made it perfect beach weather, and believe me, I was there almost every summer weekend from 1990 through 1993. Well, the Ozarks don't have any beaches to speak of. They did make a valiant attempt to recreate one at Lake Tablerock down near Branson, but it's just not the same. Yes, I have to admit, that is the thing I probably miss the most from Southern California (besides friends and family of course), but I've since learned there is more to life than a sandy shore and an ocean breeze. Colour like we sometimes find here in the Ozarks during both the Spring and Autumn seasons is something that is really worth looking forward to. Post 1993, if you ask what my favourite season is, I would have to tell you Autumn. (Though Spring is a contender as well.) By the time the leaves change, the air has dried out considerably, and for a brief moment in time, I am reminded of a crisp and mild California winter. However, something happens here that you'll never see in the lower West Coast. The leaves come alive with vibrant colours, as in these photos.
Michael and Lauren Playing in the Leaves
Penny and I took these in the Autumn of 2006. I believe it was October. We went to one of our favourite parks -- the Wilson's Creek Civil War Battlefield near Republic Missouri. Our daughter Lauren was just born that summer prior, and the kids took the opportunity to play in the leaves. I remember how Michael did such a wonderful job holding up his baby sister and handing her these strange crunchy objects that Penny and I quickly fished out of her mouth. Autumn in California was nothing like this. In fact, we didn't even call it autumn. I didn't start using that word until I moved out here. In California we just called it "fall," and that's because that's all you could expect. The leaves would be green one day, brown the next, and by the following day you're raking them up off the ground. I used to hate "fall" out there, because all it meant was yard work. There was nothing really to enjoy. Here in the Ozarks its a completely different story. Autumn means a reprieve from the oppressive tropical heat and humidity of summer, and usually gives you just enough of a breather before the arctic winds drive you back indoors for another reason. For a brief period of time, it actually feels like we really are living on top of mountains.
Just Outside of Wilson's Creek Civil War Battlefield
Yes, there is a down side to all of this, especially if your an asthmatic with nasty allergies, but these things can be controlled with medications, and so that is what I do. It's worth it though, just to see and feel the magnificence of it all. Growing up in Southern California, I had no idea what I was missing. I am thankful Penny and I decided to start our family out here rather than back west. Every morning my kids get to look our the back deck window at a country meadow with turkey and deer occasionally wandering through. Everywhere else you look there are trees, and our house is nestled into a grove of trees at the end of the woods. As far as Southern living goes, you just can't beat it, in my opinion, and yes, technically this is the South. Everywhere you look from my house was Confederate territory between 1861 to 1863. That's another thing I really like about the Ozarks. It is rich in history and tradition. My kids don't know how good they got it. It's funny when you really think about it. My grandparents generation moved west to improve their quality of life, and they found it, for a time. My generation moved back east to improve our quality of life, right where our grandparents started 50 years ago, and we found it too. I can only hope and pray it lasts longer than a generation. It would be nice if the clan could finally settle down and call a place home.