Around this time each year, the family and I head to the highway in search of an experience that captures the essence of the changing season. Rims of mountains are within a couple hours of our doorstep, each holding troves of farms that try to outdo each other with autumnal offerings like corn mazes, pick-your-own apples, petting zoos, hayrides, and the obligatory cornucopia of seasonal outdoor snacks like apple pies, turkey legs, and cider slushies.
The farms have honed their ability to lure children into all sorts of sugar-crazed mayhem, which in other words means they have perfected the art of relieving parents of the money in their wallets.
This year, we drove to the disappointing Roselyn Farm in Jasper, a small town in Georgia’s apple belt. In summary, the single-serve pies were dry and chewy, the pumpkin bread stale, the animals in the petting zoo mangy, the gourds overpriced, and the hayrides a highway robbery. Though I managed to snag a few decent photos, did we ‘find autumn’ at Roselyn Farm? I think not.
Though a little damp and iffy on the rain, how divine it was that we decided on a short hike earlier in the day. We spent the night camped with friends at Cloudland Canyon State Park, a large tract of land plotted on the backside of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN. Named for its most prevalent geographical feature, the state park is serene and secluded, and offers supreme vistas of the rock-walled, poplar-lind, waterfall-dotted chasm below. The park has skillfully constructed a set of metal staircases (over 600 steps total) so its visitors can descend the canyon for a closer look.
Fog-shrouded craggy rock outcroppings jag this way and that as white water tumbles over boulders and leaps over ledges. And with each whoosh of wind, a hundred more brown and yellow leaves depart their branches, flitting through the whirling air and flecking the ground below. A few lucky ones make their way into the rushing creek for a roller coaster tumble deep into the valley.
And Autumn is found.
Like many of life’s greatest things, the changes of seasons present themselves in unexpected ways. We never could have planned for our morning hike to become the defining moment of our quest for an autumnal experience. I am thankful we had our eyes open and said ‘yes’ when the opportunity came along amid the rain.