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[personal profile] olmue
By FAR the first thing you notice (if you're me, anyway, coming from tree-starved northern plains) is the TREES. They are so huge! So beautiful! It's obviously not with my ears, but I swear I can hear them somehow. It just FEELS different here. The trees are ginormous, too. Everywhere you look, there are 100-foot pines. (Pictured.) Also sweetgum. (Not pictured.) I had no idea sweetgum trees could grow that tall, but they do! Also tulip trees (not pictured), which people plant decoratively elsewhere, but which appear to grow wild (and also tall) here. There are also occasional cypress and redwood type trees (pictured). There is something lovely and very filling about walking on silent pine needles as the trees look down kindly on you.

Another ubiquitous scene is the kudzu. It is everywhere! It comes in leaves of three, but they are rounded and larger than poison ivy. The bad thing of course is that it eventually cuts off the trees it grows on from sunlight and kills them. But I hear maybe they've decided it isn't quite as devastating as they used to believe? In any case, it also has purple flowers that cluster a bit like grapes or wysteria. They smell just like grape jelly, too!

The other plant (on the right) is crepe myrtle. It is also everywhere, planted as a desirable landscaping feature. We saw it in South Carolina--it has a bit of a tolerance for salt water. Here, there is no salt water (we're about three hours from the Gulf), but it still decorates the strip between divided highways. The new growth looks just like fireworks, don't you think?

And of course, don't forget cotton! Actually, I nearly did forget it, because the northern half of the state is the only part I've been in, and it's so heavily forested that it's hard to imagine a big field of cotton. Here is a university cotton field we came upon. It isn't the first time I've seen cotton grow. My mother was a community college professor when I was growing up, and she wanted to know for herself what it was really like for the slaves who had to pick it. So she planted it. And my sister and I got to be the slaves and harvest it. I have a loooooooot of sympathy for those people. Picking it isn't too bad, but then you have to get the little black seed out of the middle of the cotton boll. And it is NOT fun. The scratchy feel of the cotton fibers bothers me more than nails on a chalkboard. (Hence the desparaging term "cotton-pickin'.")

The Appalachians end in Alabama, and the further north you go, the hillier it gets. This is from the top of Mt. Cheaha, the tallest point in the state. (Don't laugh, Westerners--it may be only 2000 feet, but it's still PRETTY.)

Ah, yes. And we'll end with a little picture of the thing that all true Alabamians REALLY care about. And that is football. I have lived in the SEC before, but I have NEVER seen it to this level of religious fervor.


Date: 2015-10-17 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robinellen.livejournal.com
Amazing. Do the trees change for the fall? That would be something to see...still, really beautiful. (My gramma -- the one who's 98.75 -- used to pick cotton to earn extra money for shoes...or I should say, she tried it one fall and decided it was so horrible she'd rather go shoeless.)

Date: 2015-10-17 10:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olmue.livejournal.com
It sounds like in times past, cotton picking may have been a thing like spud harvest or corn detasseling, where they hire out to school kids to help with. Grueling, but good pay. However, I can also see why someone might want to never ever do it again...

As to leaves, yes, there are a fair amount that change color, but so far the leaves haven't seemed as clear as in other places--I don't know if there are leaf illnesses in the trees near me, or if it has to do with the way the weather turns very slowly, but a lot of the leaves I've seen are part colored, part brown (or colored with brown spots). Tulip trees go yellow, and of course sweetgum are all different colors on the same tree. Lots of oak too, though, and they just turn brown and fall off. Still, it's a lot better than when we lived in Charleston! The leaves don't change at all there; they stay green all winter and only fall off in the spring when they get new ones.

Date: 2015-10-17 10:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olmue.livejournal.com
Actually, I think that the leaves have only just started turning, and we may get more as we go along. I'm still figuring out the seasons here. It feels like spring/summer, even though the sun is setting earlier all the time.

Date: 2015-10-18 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fabulousfrock.livejournal.com
Yes, I think you are definitely not "there" yet for leaves. I feel like in Florida they changed in maybe late November...

The woods are so pretty. That must be a balm to the soul although...the football thing is weird!

Date: 2015-10-18 12:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olmue.livejournal.com
The football thing is like a weird, not-so-secret cult that everybody, but EVERYBODY is part of. :) On the plus side, as long as you stay out of the way of traffic, it's possible to feel like you're the only one in town when it's game day and you're anywhere BUT at the stadium. :)

This week is supposed to be a lot cooler, so I'm betting some of the trees teetering on the brink of turning start to go. With all the sweetgum trees around here, it's got to be pretty when it happens!
Edited Date: 2015-10-18 12:51 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-10-18 02:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] barbarabaker.livejournal.com
I've never seen cotton growing, or kudzu. But I love any kind of pine tree. Those tree photos are all lovely. I'll bet it smells good in the woods, too.

Date: 2015-10-18 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olmue.livejournal.com
It smells sooooo good! I marvel every time I step outside. There are flowers out there, too, and wow, it's a change from North Dakota. We liked the people, but we lived near a sugar refinery, which smells exactly like roadkill, and in the summer, there was sticky aphid "honeydew" (read: poop) that got on everything and then fermented in the heat. :P But here, you step outside and are washed with this clean pine smell, with flowers. It's nice. :)


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