Summer is my favorite season: I enjoy long days, early sunrises, heat and even humidity. But there’s something about an East Coast fall that makes me appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature more than any other time of the year, especially in Virginia.
I’ve come to know and look forward to Virginia autumns the most. They carry the years into the barren winters before renewal in spring. Autumn in Virginia has provided some of the most beautiful and colorful sights I’ve ever seen. The sounds of crunching red, yellow and orange leaves on a cool afternoon reflect the past and represent unique new things to come. After all, autumn is defined by maturity.
With diverse scenery, it’s no surprise that founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington made their homes on the southern side of the Potomac River.
“Here you can form no adequate idea of the beauty or sublimity of a winter’s storm; but standing, as I have often stood at Monticello, to watch its progress—rising over the distant Alleghany, come sweeping and roaring on, mountain after mountain, till you feel its fall and shudder at its blast; and then to turn to the fire-side, and amidst its comforts to listen to the howling wind,” Jefferson said while touring guests around Monticello in 1809, two decades after Virginia grew from a British colony to an official American state.
Jefferson also expressed a love for spring in his writings, but there’s no doubt he recognized the unmatched beauty of an Old Dominion fall. In 1797 he wrote, “My experience of the different parts of America convinces me that these mountains are the Eden of the U.S. for soil, climate, navigation and health.”
Apple picking for holiday pies this time of year is a tradition. At Carter Mountain Orchard, just outside of Charlottesville and next door to Monticello, the smell of cider donuts fills the air. Cute couples, families, kids and furry four-legged friends make their way through rows of trees, climbing up to reach fruit-filled branches.
Nearby, Shenandoah National Park is at its peak, and tourists from all over the world enjoy leisurely trips down Skyline Drive. Ambitious backpackers ramble along the Appalachian trail while day hikers make their way up Old Rag Mountain or around Stoney Man Loop.
Southeast at the Tides Inn in Irvington, oysters are shucked on the docks, and when the sun sets early, the campfire begins with roasted marshmallows for dessert. The full moon bounces along the water, replacing the colored reflection of the trees along the shoreline.
As life rolls along, with each year going by faster than the one before, it’s important to take a moment and appreciate the beauty that passing time has to offer—even if only for a season.
Katie Pavlich is one special American women. I have great respect for her drive, her integrity, and her fine character.