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Saturday, April 13, 2024

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Another Great Read

Under the Chinaberry Tree

This Week On
The Sound of Texas

Monday, April 8
Fran Houser Adrian Midway Cafe
Tuesday, April 9
Peter Avila San Benito Conjunto Museum
Wednesday, April 10
Suzanne Theis Houston Car Parade
Thursday, April 11
Dorinda Millan Pecos Museum
Friday, April 12
Troy Grusendorf Brownwood Harmonica
Complete Schedule for April

In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

The images of red, orange and gold flashed by as I drove between Rusk and Palestine. It was late afternoon and I was headed into the sun. The trees were backlit and provided dramatic autumn visions. The reds of the sumac and sweet gum stood out as sunbeams focused on their flaming crimson leaves. It's like some unseen force turned spotlights on main characters in a drama. The reds certainly took center stage on this trip.

The black highway, with its yellow stripes and white lines, created a formal pattern as it curved between the borders of the dense, wild forest. The strobe-like effect of sunlight streaming in and out of the trees as I sped by almost made me dizzy.

I saw fall colors I don't think I've ever seen before. One fascinating tree had leaves the color of apricot. The Chinese Tallows were both red and gold. Cypress was orange. Sassafras was red. Hickory was gold. All the bright colors paraded before walls of deep dark green longleaf pine.

The timing of my trip to East Texas was perfect. It was before the first freeze. It was warm and light winds hadn't bothered the leaves, so they stayed on the trees longer than usual and gave us something to look at and appreciate.

The richness of the East Texas fall was even more in evidence the next morning when I drove from Rusk to Alto. Although I was traveling in the opposite direction from the day before, I was again driving into the sun. I passed dead man's curve and saw more colors, this time on white and red oaks, sugar maple and a few chinaberry trees. In the early morning light, another compelling element was added: the misty, light fog. The wispy clouds of moisture moved slowly through the trees and across cleared land, then evaporated as the sun climbed higher in the sky.

There was little traffic on the small highways I took. I felt lucky to be there at the time, and a little selfish, because really the highways should have been full of people who appreciate fall scenery. It was spectacular this year. From late October until after Thanksgiving, the east Texas woods are bursting with autumn delights, reaching peak usually in early November. The bright sun brings out the colors, especially when you drive toward the sun while it is making its slow descent to the distant horizon. Fall is invigorating anyway. The cool weather makes you realize summer is gone and football season is here. This year, Texans didn't have to travel north or east to see fall color.

Fall in East Texas also means festival time. At the Pecan Fest in Alto, the streets were lined with vendors selling everything from Elvis t-shirts to homemade root beer. Competition for pecan pies, cakes and candy was fierce. The pecan is an important part of life in Cherokee county, so the city of Alto decided to honor it with a festival. This was the second year for it and it was more than twice as big as last year.

We live in a beautiful, fun state.

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