olmue: (me sketch)
[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.

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