Each and every fall it seems, there are quite a few people up in the northern states who get unbelievably giddy when the foliage on trees begins turning different colors. There are news broadcasts, and hundreds of published reports and maps detailing when and where the fall color is “peak” or “past peak.” Some bus companies charge in excess of a thousand dollars for fall foliage tours lasting more than a week.
I grew up in the American Midwest, and, I agree that the fall colors can be spectacular. But I cannot quite fathom why someone would spend a thousand bucks to ride around in a bus to see dying, albeit, colorful leaves, when, in most cases, they can see the same thing, year after year, by looking out their own kitchen window.
Having said that, my real problem with the colorful fall foliage in the northern states is what it portends. It means that just after you put the leaf rake back in the garage, you’ll be picking up a snow shovel. Colorful leaves means cold weather is on the way. Cold weather brings snow and ice, and to me, none of that is pleasant. So, in a reaction similar to one of “Pavlov‘s Dogs,” when I see leaves that are not green, I start “salivating” for a warmer climate.
To be fair, the Texas Hill Country has a similar hype in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming, and the hills are alive with color. Just like up north, there are bus tours. And, I’m quite sure, that there are hill country citizens with Texas Blue Bonnets blooming just outside their front door who scramble up the steps of a tour bus every year to see even more Blue Bonnets a few miles down the road.
Fall in the Texas Hill Country has colors of its own. While the foliage doesn’t change color to the same extent up north, because of fewer deciduous trees, there are colorful flowers and berries which brighten the season. The Mexican Bush Sage provides a wonderful display of purple and white flowers. The Texas Lantana, with its bright orange and yellow flowers, is ever-present on these nice warm November days. The American Beautyberry, with its bright purple fruit, is found in abundance along with brightly colored berries of the holly species. Maximillian sunflowers, and so many more colorful blooms, add to the hill country's “fall colors.”
While the observance of these magnificent colors is an annual rite of fall in the hill country, and may be comparable in some way to what is going on up north this time of year, there is one big and very important difference. These fall colors are not followed by leaf raking, a lot of sub-freezing temperatures, and snow shoveling. And that, at least to me, makes all the difference in the world.