Fall ColorsI’ve lived in big cities and small towns. I’ve lived in south Louisiana, Chicago and Hawaii—but for beauty—my notion of beauty—Hot Springs is the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived and as for seasonal change, Autumn in Hot Springs is the richest treasure of them all. First there’s the blush…forsythia, ivy, dogwood the beginning blush of brilliance. Some of them faintly pink around the edges running to deep red across the faces of stone and wooden walls…some of it is a blood rush and still others looks as though they are only rusting in a bit ‘round the edges like a wheelbarrow left in the rain too long.

Next, as you turn your head, or round a corner, there are “tipped leaves.” That is, some of them look as though the very edges of them were dipped in chocolate…and some mad, spritely painter has run through the city with a little bucket of yellow ocher paint spreading daubs of color here and there with a judicious hand. Next, he then holds them against the ethereal heat of his body—a natural kiln—and bakes them until they are just slightly crisp at the edges’ a fragile flakiness like a sugar cookie—all crispy at the edge and soft in the middle.

On every street, everywhere you look, you can see the blaze. It rises to your eye like dawn. Trees shot with gold and amber and russet. There are some that look like Burgundy wine with the light shining through it. Some are dark mulberry musing s harboring early secrets. Saffron hickory’s that look like you could add them to your tea and they would taste of spice and mystery. There are the fading greens that look vaguely white in the early morning on misty mountains as though they are thinking of the coming frost and trying out the look of it in advance to see how it fits. The redā€orange of the maple that looks happy to show off such colors as though just by being bright in appearance they might warm the chilly days. All of them are lit from the inside out…that life force banking itself for the long winter

There’s such a feeling of movement in the air during autumn isn’t there? It’s an internal stirring probably brought on by ancient instinct to forage and gather and stockpile for the winter. Here in Hot Springs there is such a visual banquet—it makes me want to go and do and see all there is to see, all the while taking stock of where I am. Autumn’s when the earth takes a deep breath and sighs—as though after so much blossoming and blooming it just has to take a moment to relax and reflect over the bounty it produced during the year past. It is at ease, not yet steeling itself for the winter nor expending the growth energy for spring. To me, it’s a perfect season for being—just being. I breathe as the earth breathes, sigh as the earth sighs.

It’s not a season for dying but one for snuggling down into oneself—into the folds of the earth in between the hills—and sleep, waiting patiently for the coming of spring. It’s a haircut that you wait its growing out. Everything is waiting with bated breath, slowing pulse and a last sigh of summer. The earth’s going out in a blaze of glory, content in the knowledge that it will be back again next year to go through the process all over again.

E. S. Parker

About the author: Emily Parker is currently living in Hot Springs and is passionate about learning new things, the arts, philosophy and the intersection of all three.  As well as currently working on her twelfth volume of poetry, she has a keen interest in botany, creating whatever she puts her mind to and Scotch whisky.  She works at Visit Hot Springs and as an adjunct instructor at National Park Community College.