Fall 2014: Life on Lookout Mountain


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text and photography by JOHN DERSHAM

There is something about the changing seasons that stimulates the senses to take a journey back in time to other years, to reminisce about those things in life that occur with each season.

Fall makes me think about summer ending and going back to school. I still think about this even though it has been more than forty years since I was in school. My  granddaughters are in school now, so I watch the process through them. Fall brings cooler mornings with dew and fog. Its color palette is shifting from greens to yellows, browns, oranges and reds, and there is a sparkle in the air.[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]

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[/s2If][s2If is_user_logged_in()]Fun family times are associated with fall. It is county and state fair time, Halloween and Thanksgiving. You start remembering those same events from your past. It brings to mind small children who have grown up and older family members who are gone.

The days are growing shorter, and you’re settling in for the evening earlier. There are new TV shows to look forward to; there are football games and homework. Kids have new teachers and new friends, and we all can enjoy hayrides, pumpkin picking, hikes and scenic drives to witness the woodlands bidding us goodbye for the season with their final, colorful performance of the year.

As fall progresses we start leaning into the Christmas spirit. For most of us, that starts with Thanksgiving. I prefer Thanksgiving as a totally separate event and spare myself from any Christmas decorating until the first part of December. Maybe I want these events to stand totally on their own because I love them both so much. My wife and I have never been Black-Friday shoppers; we are just not ready to move, quite yet, into that Christmas feeling.

Last year while traveling through Birmingham, Ala., I stopped at the Riverchase Galleria mall in the third week of October, and Santa was already there, sitting alone with no one in line. I wished I had not even stopped at the mall. All the stores were playing Christmas music, and they were fully decorated for the Christmas holiday. Maybe I am the only one turned off by that. I love Christmas, but not till December.

Fall is beautiful on Lookout Mountain, where my wife and I have lived for the past 12 years. The fall color is wonderful. Many trees on the mountain are prone to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. These include Southern red maples, black gums, sweet gums, dogwoods, sourwoods and red and white oaks. Unlike points farther south, our woods are primarily deciduous, with less pine. This allows for a more noticeable color palette in fall.

Lookout Mountain is heavily wooded and offers a great number of public-land areas. This makes the region ideal for fall-foliage seekers who can relax at one of our parks. You can drive nearly 100 miles along Lookout Mountain on the Lookout Mountain Parkway. Much of this scenic byway runs through forest, and, in some places, tree branches form a tunnel overhead. What a wonderful feeling it is on a clear, comfortable, fall day to drive along the parkway and witness the spectacular effusion of color. I invite you to visit us and experience it yourself.

John Dersham is president/CEO of DeKalb Tourism.[/s2If]