It’s funny, the hills and Blue Ridge spend all year a hazy blue-grey – sometimes more grey, sometimes more blue. There’s a brief period on clear days in Spring when they’re mottled greens, and in the fall there’s a week or so when they’re rusty. But after fresh snow is when they suddenly stand up and want to be noticed.
In just a week or so, a flock of robins will be here, and will spend a few days stripping the Holly tree of berries. They’ll start at the top and slowly work their way down, leaving no berries behind. Then they’ll leave.
Days grow longer by increments now. Light, gaining strength, lingers on the rim of hills a bit longer each evening, before slipping back down to black. Some nights the twilight spreads all the way around the horizon, like a red hem on winter‘s star-sequined gown.
Took some photos on the way home, shivering, so cold I couldn’t feel my finger on the shutter.
It’s been really cold lately. On Saturday, when I went down to the shop, it was 4 below. I don’t remember it being that cold here. In other parts of the country, New England and the Midwest, it dipped into the -30’s. My folks marveled it was snowing at the beach in South Carolina.
There’s a mountain ridge, runs southwest to northeast. It’s where the bad weather comes from, a shoulder against winter. Wet and cold spill over the rim in slow motion, flowing down through the bare tree tops into hollows and coves, where houses are huddled inside by fires to keep warm.
All week the ridgeline has been hidden by low clouds, clear below; clouds that sometimes rain, sometimes mist, later sleet or snow, but never much.
The top of the ridge could be gone. Maybe it will just be changed somehow, and we won’t know what is different, it will just feel different. I saw a fox this morning, and an owl last night. Both had somewhere to go.
I have a handful of friends and family who I hear from around this time every year. It usually begins with emails, arriving in mid-October, with subject lines like “Has it started yet?” and “Almost Time!” They’re people who, for one reason or another, now live in places where they have no autumn to speak of, no explosion of fall color like we have in Virginia.