Shenandoah Fall


The morning sun cast an illuminating light on the colorful deciduous trees west of Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the heart of the pastoral Shenandoah Valley. Cloud shadows played across the Allegheny Mountains that divide Virginia from West Virginia and served as a quiet backdrop for the colorful foreground. Also, note the rolling fence in the front of the scene mirrors the undulating mountains in the background.

“Shenandoah Fall” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2019

Right Where They Fell

autumn leaves, sugar maple leaves, iron fence
Right where they fell.

This has been an unusual fall across much of the country. Here in Virginia, we have received only recent rains, much too late to help the leaves reach their peak colors before they fell. This sugar maple in a yard in the quaint town of Dayton in Rockingham Co. defied the dry weather. Perhaps not as bright as usual, her broad leaves still turned rich gold in color.

Whether from fatigue or the extended dry spell or both, the shapely maple gave up most of her leafy crown all at once. With little wind, this year’s crop remained right where they fell. The old wrought iron fence seemed to help corral them, too.

“Right Where They Fell” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

Autumn Morning

autumn pond reflections
Autumn morning.

Bathed by the sun one frosty early morning, little wisps of fog accented a sugar maple’s reflection in a farm pond. If you click on the photo, you can see a lone male mallard floating along.

“Autumn Morning” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Autumn in Amish Country

colorful leaves, Holmes Co. OH
Autumn in Amish Country.

I think I’ll just let this photo speak for itself.

“Autumn in Amish Country” in my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Turning

changing leaves, colorful leaves
Turning.

This photo is proof that the leaves are indeed turning into their natural colors once again in Ohio’s Amish country. As I drove around the area yesterday afternoon, I was surprised to see such a wide range in coloration of the leaves. This photo shows it well. Some trees are already near their peak. Others are beginning a tinge of color while many are still mostly green.

“Turning” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

Walking home

Amish couple, Holmes County Ohio, autumn leaves, country scene
Walking home. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

This time of year, the mixed deciduous leaves in Ohio’s Amish country are at their peak. You might expect me to choose a photo of a pastoral scene of a stand of golden sugar maples, or a treeline of reds, yellows and oranges as my Photo of the Week. Instead, I have selected this simple shot of an older Amish couple slowly walking home on a mid-October Sunday evening.

I was taking landscape photos of the lovely leaves. Near home, I stopped to take a photo of the golden sugar maples at my neighbor’s colonial style farmhouse. As I exited my vehicle, I noticed another neighbor, Christ, walking down the small knoll in front of the home. I respect the Amish desire to not be photographed. So I waited until he would pass. When he reached where I was standing, we began talking as neighbors will do. Soon his wife joined us. He had come to meet her on her usual evening stroll. Christ’s knees no longer allow him to accompany her on the steeper hills his wife walks.

I told them that I wanted to take a picture of the Kaufman house with the trees so nicely brightened by the evening sun, but that I had waited until he was no longer in the frame. Christ, who is 82, just smiled and said, “I don’t mind if you take my picture.” So I did, making sure to honor their beliefs by not getting a face shot.

Having this congenial elderly Amish couple in the foreground of the photo opposite the tans of the unharvested soybean field added a touching human element to an already pretty picture. “Walking home” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

The good and the bad of being noted

Colorful leaves Holmes County Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
The red barn. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014

By Bruce Stambaugh

When I learned that Holmes County, Ohio ranked third in the world on National Geographic’s list of best places to view fall leaves, I smiled broader than a white oak leaf. I was overjoyed for the national notoriety of our picturesque county.

I’m not sure what criteria they used to rank the global locales to gain such stature. I’d like to think that there was more to it than seasonally colorful leafage.

Amish buggy fall leaves by Bruce Stambaugh
Pretty ride. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

I hoped our fertile fields and comely homesteads, our quaintness and inherent hospitality helped. It’s hard to resist chestnut horses and black buggies driven by friendly, plainly dressed passengers passing sun-drenched woodlots flashing all of autumn’s bright, warm colors.

The area’s fall beauty is ubiquitous. From Glenmont to Winesburg, from Walnut Creek to Lakeville, from Limpytown to Lake Buckhorn, the autumn vistas are amazing.

Then my grateful grin narrowed to a willow leaf’s width. I winced just thinking about our already clogged roads during the fall.

I was glad our bucolic area had received such a high recommendation from such a reputable source. But I found the potential consequences of that distinction a bit intimidating. How in the world would our infrastructure handle the onslaught of additional leaf lookers that were sure to appear?

Though pretty year-round, there’s no arguing that fall is prime time when it comes to the natural beauty here. A bonus is that the scenery is always changing given our varying topography and variable weather. It can be sunny in the highlands, and socked in with soupy fog in the lowlands.

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In minutes that scenario most likely will change with the wind or the warming of the atmosphere or both. One minute you can barely see your hand in front of your face, and the next the sun is illuminating superb settings.

There’s beauty around every turn no matter where you are exploring, and in Holmes County curves and hills abound. You can circumnavigate the area every day and watch the scenes transform.

Having lived here all of my adult life, I’m likely prejudiced about the splendor of the local landscapes. Given this recognition, forget about the four corners of the world. The four corners of Holmes County are all you need to satisfy your desire for leafy vistas.

There are just too many good spots to view leaves to even think about making a personal list to share. Instead, just grab a map, drive in any direction and look. You’ll see what I mean. You can’t get lost either. All roads lead to somewhere.

A word of caution is in order, however. Our narrow, curvy roads are heavily traveled, with few places to safely pull off for photos. You may have to just take it all in as you go, and only stop where it is safe to do so.

There is an exception to that rule, however. The Holmes County Trail runs diagonally through the heart of the county for 15 miles from Killbuck to Fredericksburg. The photogenic panoramas and outdoor exercise will equally invigorate you.

The trail is for bicyclists, pedestrians, joggers, and horse and buggies only. No motorized vehicles are permitted, which makes for a safer, quieter trek to observe fall’s colors. The trail can be accessed in several locations, too, with vehicle parking provided.

I don’t recall what the first two locations were on National Geographic’s list. I just know that in the fall Holmes County is a giant, multihued maple leaf for all to admire.

Amish farm by Bruce Stambaugh
Long lane. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.