Saturday, November 14, 2009

Georgia On My Mind

Fall has been uncommonly beautiful in Athens this year. More than 23 inches of rain since September and unseasonably mild weather are likely causes. You won't hear me complaining.

Until I moved to Athens I had no idea how much I hated cold weather. The hot and humid summers take some getting used to, but I settled in to the mild winters right away. Days like today are not unusual. If the sun is out, even in January and February we can see highs in the 60s and into the 70s. I'll take that over snow any time.

Having grown up in Kentucky, ordinary sights around Georgia are quite exotic to me. I've come to love the sight of mist rising through tall pecan orchards in the early morning light, a confederate rose in bloom (right) and the sun setting over acres of ready-to-harvest cotton. I doubt I'd miss the kudzu, but I would certainly miss the sight and smell of out-of-control wisteria in bloom.

Azaleas struggled to survive in Lexington, but I have always loved them. Here they are amazing. Some folks consider them too common and ordinary for home landscapes. Not me. I add a few more every year. I love the clear colors, the gracefully mounding habit, and the way the flowers blanket the plants. Few plants compare with a mature azalea in full bloom.

Since moving to Georgia I've come to love camellias. There's something extra special about an evergreen that, depending on the variety, blooms from late October through April. I especially like the way petals fall from spent blooms to look like puddles around the base of the plant (left). I'd miss that.

Fragrances permeate the air here almost year round. Some are intense. We had Bradford Pear trees in Kentucky, but I don't recall them stinking things up like they do here. The scent of gardenias, magnolias, jasmine, wisteria and many others settle over neighborhoods like a cloud. I can't imagine fall without tea olives.

No doubt these things are common throughout the Deep South and elsewhere in the world. Perhaps so. But it wouldn't be the same.  Without them I suspect I'd be even more...

The Crotchety Old Man

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