Autumn: “A second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus
As a card carrying member of the Leaf Lookers Club, I can tell you that the fall colors have been extraordinarily beautiful in South Dakota.
But you already knew that – even if searching out nature’s artwork isn’t your passion.
Last week, an early morning crossing of the Cheyenne River Valley on I-90 made me wish I still carried a camera, as I did in my younger days of newspapering. The sun was playing upon thousands of trees with yellow and orange leaves, rendering an impression of a river of gold.
As breathtaking as the river valley is this time of year, there are many other places in our state that equal or exceed it. They just aren’t as convenient because they are not on an interstate highway.
Those who live in the Black Hills will tell you that Spearfish Canyon offers spectacular colors in fall, with the pale yellows of birch and aspen at higher elevations contrasting with the rich green of the ponderosa pines on the mountainsides and an occasional dollop of red provided by the oak tree.
When colorful vistas are mentioned, the Missouri River valley and its tributaries also are a leaf peeper’s dream, as are parts of the James River.
Another favorite of mine is Sica Hollow State Park northwest of Sisseton, which displays a broad array of maples, ash and lindens painting nature’s scene. The hollow has the added benefit of a spooky reputation, perfect for this month. And what about Newton Hills near Canton?
Some leaf lookers bemoan the scarcity of red color in our autumn landscape, and while we lack the abundance of sugar and red maple trees that help make New England a fall destination, color enthusiasts can find those reds in our state’s northeast quadrant – Marshall and Roberts counties.
I grew up enjoying large swaths of red near our old farmhouse. The deep burgundy color of the sumac shrub lined the home’s western exposure, and today, many plant the sumac for that reason – to make sure that the predominately yellow landscape of cottonwoods and poplars includes a generous splash of red.
As a kid, fall was my least favorite season. It meant that summer – baseball, swimming and carefree days – was over. I no longer feel that way. All four seasons in South Dakota are special but autumn, with its color, cooler days, harvest and hunting, can best be described by poets and painters.
Oct. 11, 2017