Tuesday, November 26, 2019

In search of fall colors in Tennessee and Georgia

On the week-end of November 10, 2019, in search of fall colors, I drove to a small park called Beaman Park, about 15 miles northwest from downtown Nashville, Tennessee.  It covers 1,678 acres of natural areas, mostly ridges and hollows.

The Nature Center has a back patio (pictured in the heading) and a boardwalk.  Rocking chairs are provided so you can observe the steep wooded hills below.  It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, a bit cool - low 50s F (11 C.)  I encountered no one on the patio or on the boardwalk.

I sat in one of the rockers for a while.  The deck is perched high above the forest floor as Beaman Park is located on the edge of the Western Highland Rim.

I drove to another area of the park, to the trail heads.  There are three hiking trails, one of them following an old logging road with rugged hills and a shallow stream.  It was getting late afternoon - lots of shade.  The colors of the leaves were not very bright, though. (Please click on collage to enlarge.)

The following week, on Sunday 12 November, 2019, I drove south to Georgia.  I usually exit the freeway, I-75, at the Red Top Mountain Road exit.  Then it is about 8 miles to my house.  But if you turn left from the exit and cross a little bridge over Lake Allatoona, it is only a mile to the entrance of Red Top Mountain State Park.  Since it was warm and about 3:30 pm I decided to try my luck at fall foliage there.  My late husband and I often visited the park and I showed photos of it in several posts - here is a post from 2013: "Fall color at Lake Allatoona".  Then I drove up the hill to the park.

I parked by the Visitors' Center and petted a friendly dog near a bench.  Then I walked up a small trail.  Many dead leaves and branches.  As soon as there is a clearing though, pine trees grow like weeds in Georgia, and they are ever so green!  The fall colors were not as vivid as in prior years - could be because of the drought or the early frost, or a bit late in the season.

The sun was about gone and in this wooded area the colors were subdued.  I sat on a nice round rock and thought for a while.  Am not sure what about but I'll find some "thought" to write below.

"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."  - Elizabeth Lawrence,1904-1985, garden writer.

On Monday the weather was quite pleasant again, full sun and 66 F (18.8C.)  Driving to the grocery store I decided to drive the extra mile to one of the Cobb County Parks.  The entrance was promising with intense red trees along the road.

Unfortunately by the time I arrived at the lake it looked like the promise from the entrance had not been kept.  The lake was deserted, peaceful and placid but did not show much fall color.

Walking on the trail near the lake, I saw more pine trees and several little bushes with colored leaves.  The leaves from the couple of large trees there looked as though they had been burnt by the sun then frozen in place by the early frost.  The color palette was more in the shades of brown:  tawny, caramel, russet, cinnamon and gingerbread than gold.

I gave up looking for golden foliage and sat on the bench close to a small stream running into the lake, and recalled..."Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts."  Rachel Carson, 1904-1967, American conservationist.

That evening, I did find color; the colors of the sunset behind my neighbor's pine trees.

But I did not give up.  I had visited a state park, a county park and now with the sun still shining brightly I decided to drive to a city park.  The Roswell Old Mill Park is not far.  Vickery Creek waterfall, near the ruins of the mill, pours from a historic spillway dam and is gorgeous in any season.  The creek is a Chattahoochee River tributary.  The waterfall is not visible from the entrance to the park and is not advertized.  There are few visitors during mid-week.  I walked along the creek loving the rustling sounds of the water as it rushes over the rocks.

Once by the waterfall I sat on a huge rock and just listened to the appeasing sounds of the falling water.  It had not been an easy walk along the stony trail and I was pleased to sit for a while.  There was no one around - a good place for meditation.  I thought about a quotation from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the francophone Swiss philosopher: Jamais je n'ai tant pensé, tant existé, tant vécu, tant été moi, si j'ose ainsi dire, que dans les voyages que j'ai fait seul et à pied.”  /Never did I think so much, existed so vividly, and experienced so much, never have I been so much myself, so to speak, as in the journeys I have taken alone and on foot."  Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778, Philosopher.

The next few days I had to forget my search for fall foliage color and concentrate on keeping clearing out the house.  Although, the sun was still shining and I happened to look out through the screen of the kitchen window.  My backyard is on its way to becoming a true jungle forest now that my husband is not there to trim the English ivy vines.  Still, it looked like there was some rich fall color there.

The temptation to step outside was too strong - so I went out and took more photos...even walking closer to the lake in the back.

It was time now to get ready to drive back to Nashville where the fall foliage is not in its full glory any longer but where the temperature is cooler and more like fall.

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."  F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1896-1940, American writer

Now I'll end with my best and sincere greetings to each of you for a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Marietta Chalktoberfest 2017 and 2019, part 2

This is a continuation of my post of October 30, 2019, "Chalktoberfest 2017 and 2019, part 1" where I showed pictures from the 2017 chalk festival.  The following contains photos from the 2019 chalk festival.  I usually would attend on the Sunday when all the chalk drawings were finished, but rain was expected that day, so I decided to go on Saturday afternoon, October 12, 2019.  First of all it was difficult to find a parking place.  Where parking had been free in earlier years, now it was quite expensive.  When I went to the first chalk fest in Marietta in 2013 there were 20 artists from around the country then and a small crowd of onlookers.  In 2019, 86 international chalk artists took part and the crowd had increased to over 100,000 attendees!

Each artist is sponsored by a business or organization.  The name of the business is inscribed in the street painting as an advertisement for that firm.  A side road has an area reserved for non professional artists, of all ages.  As I started walking around I saw many drawings that were in different stages of completion.  At the end of the day before I left I walked again by several drawings that had been finished.  (Please click on collage to enlarge.)

Two little boys next to me could have been in the drawing we were checking.  This trompe l'oeil drawing won 2nd prize I believe.  The first prize was awarded to the drawing called "The siblings" shown on the bottom right of the collage below.

One of my favorites was the drawing of a dog, sponsored by the Cobb County Humane Society.  It won 3rd prize.  I also liked the drawing of the late David Bowie, English singer-song writer and actor (1947-2016.)  You can see his two colored eyes in the heading photo.

It was difficult to choose a favorite with all the beautiful art from so many artists, coming as far away as Serbia, the Ukraine, the Netherlands, Argentina, Mexico, Italy and 18 states in the United States.  I liked "Svegli nel sogno" / Awake in the dream" a drawing of Vittorio Valiante of Naples, Italy.

I stopped to watch Velko Geurgevich from Belgrade, Serbia.  He was not in a hurry to be finished.  We talked for a while after I told him I had been to Belgrade years ago.  Unfortunately, I never saw his finished work.  He says in his biography: "Nature is my muse.  I am forever devoted to portraying Nature in all its magnificence.  My landscapes are intimate and personal: I see them as pages from my diary.  My work is an attempt to show my respect towards nature, an attempt I am forever refining."  Below is his drawing in progress in Marietta and standing in front of one of his paintings.

I took many photos with my two cameras and my cell phone.  Not only of the chalk art but also of the people walking by, standing on top of the Strand Theatre, dogs and chalk tool boxes.

Below are two more drawings being worked on, and then finished.

In Italy in the 16th century artists paid tribute to religious figures of the Madonna with chalk art in city streets.  They would travel around the country while earning some money from onlookers.  They placed plates beside their artwork and coins were tossed into them.  These early artists were called "Madonnari."  There are different categories of artists - copyists (recreating famous works or photographs and of celebrities,) free artists (creating their own work) and 3-D artists, creating anamorphic or "trompe l'oeil" art, that is to say - intended to give a convincing illusion of reality.

Aren't these animals looking almost real?

One of the reasons so many people are attracted by this art is the fact that it can be observed from beginning to end.  We see how the artists plan and create these large-scale drawings.  How the plain dull asphalt is almost magically coming to life into vibrant colors.

It is truly amazing to see these oversized masterpieces in chalk next to our feet.

There was a steady stream of spectators, some taking selfies, others using cameras.  Most just gazing at the art and walking on.

Just with little sticks of multi-colored chalk a talented artist can create enchanting and intricate paintings.

The festival included vendors, food, drinks and crafts.  Live music was being played non-stop by local bands in the gazebo.  The last band to play was a band I had heard before and liked.  It is called "The Paradocs."  It is a team from the medical staff of the Atlanta Northside Hospital.  The guitar player below on the right in the center picture is a pediatrician, the singer an oncologist doctor, the drummer is a pharmacist, another guitarist is an obstetrician, the ICU staff on bass.  A nurse was dancing next to me (pictured in the white skirt below.)  The rhythms were infectious - the repertoire was from classic rock - it was hard not to sway to the music! (and I was ...)

It had been another magical festival.  This year again many talented artists worked on hand and knees to design these ephemeral creations and bring our streets to life.  An artist was asked if she was sad that all her work would be washed away soon.  She answered that it is the same when you go to the theater to watch a play.  When it is over, you clap and leave; they are just as fleeting.  As French philosopher Frederic Lenoir said:

« Tout passe, tout est éphémère, les sublimes bonheurs comme les grands malheurs. »  
F. Lenoir, born in 1962

(Everything goes away; everything is ephemeral, the sublime happiness as well as the greatest misfortunes.)

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