Falling For Autumn

Half city girl, half fearless explorer—that’s how I’ve always viewed myself. This self-perception is often tested when my husband suggests an excursion somewhere that requires his pickup truck and boots, like when he proposed a detour from Interstate 30 to find his family’s farmland near Hope last October.

We exited somewhere between mile markers 18 and 36. My husband declared we’d find the farm with his fading memory of the same journey, which he’d made for a hunting trip some years before. He insisted we proceed without the help of his navigation system, assuring me our whereabouts were far too remote for Garmin anyway.

After four U-turns and three phone calls to his family for help, my inner urbanista took over. I was being inconvenienced to find a plot of land for no apparent reason. But instead of an angry outburst, I angled my gaze out the window and onto the other farms we passed, owned by families other than my husband’s.

The rural staples that came into view, broken down cars and deteriorating shacks, I usually hold in contempt. Why don’t you move the broken down car from your front yard to, dare I suggest it, a junkyard? Except this time, in this lighting, the corroding wood and broken windows of an old barn and the rust coating an abandoned plow appeared beautiful alongside turning leaves. Anything cast in the light of autumn appears more handsome, and our route through the country was no different.

As the impulsive side-trip led us deeper into the wilds of somewhere, maybe Perrytown, our single lane winded past trees newly speckled in brilliant reds and yellows. Fall filled my window pane and pacified my bad attitude. I realized I was witnessing the first real moments of the season—something I can’t say I’d ever seen before, having just moved to Little Rock from Dallas and its two seasons (a long summer and mild winter).

This was my first fall in Arkansas, my first real fall in a long time. Sure, there are patches of deciduous trees in DFW, but just as soon as you spot the colorful leaves hinting of harvest and Halloween there, they brown and wither away.

Even though we eventually found the farm—with its bucolic farmhouse, tractor-scarred fields and tranquil fish pond—I couldn’t help but think we’d happened upon a more memorable destination: rural Arkansas in autumn.

 

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