I love the fall and the change of the seasons, although in South Texas you’d miss it if you blink. We have two seasons here – the hot season and the not-so-hot season. There’s a tiny bit of color on some trees around town right now, but generally leaf peepers don’t think of mesquite trees the same way they do aspens or maples. Locally, leaves really don’t start to turn until the first or second week of November and when they do, the best fall foliage tree is the Texas Red Oak, planted in yards for its quick growth rate and beautiful red leaves.
At the end of October or the first two weeks of November, one of the most popular leaf viewing spots in Texas is Lost Maples State Natural Area, about 85 miles northwest of San Antonio. It is an almost spiritual experience to walk under the gold canopy of old trees on a cool, sunny day. Bigtooth maples are the draw here; the largest concentration east of the Guadalupe mountains. They love the deep, moist canyons and so do all the hordes of weekend visitors from Austin and San Antonio, so it’s best to go during the middle of the week. It was also the first place I ever saw a Golden-cheeked Warbler back in my obsessive bird-watching days (pre-kids).
O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.
“The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.