Autumnal Flora of the Smokies

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I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. It is cheerfully, musically earnest. I lie and rely on the hearth.
— Henry David Thoreau

It’s a dreamy time of year in western North Carolina. Late October always comes with many questions. When will the foliage peak? Will it be hot and humid, or, cold and dreary on Halloween? Will the first snow arrive before the month ends? The days become increasingly shorter, the wind blows a little cooler, and summer whispers its last breath. People from around the globe are drawn to these mountains in the autumn to witness the brilliant golds, burnt oranges, and shocking reds that announce themselves throughout the vast amount of trees. And, if you look a little closer, many other colors, textures, and shapes of flora are putting on one final show before frost settles in for good.

I used to live in this area, and still manage to make it back several times each year. In this part of the American south, there are moments you might forget you’re hundreds of miles below the Mason-Dixon line. The sun doesn’t scorch as hot as it does in the piedmont, lowcountry, and coastal regions that lie to the southeast. Palmettos and Spanish moss are fully absent. Ice-cold spring water pours from the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains. In Asheville, people regularly march in the streets for peace and equality. Yet, fried chicken, banjo music, and confederate flags remain at large… making for an eclectic mix. The native trees and plants growing among western North Carolina’s streams and valleys certainly add to that mix, and if you are ever in this area during the fall, be sure to take it all in.

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