Moving to a new state has brought a lot of changes. We have enjoyed them all. This month we are experiencing our first fall in Virginia. It has been glorious. The colors, the temperatures and the skies - all perfection! The best part is how long it has been. Back in Wisconsin the trees turn, the cold sets in and all is bare and gray November in a matter of [seemingly] days. Here it has been weeks of crisp and color and there are still flowers!
Last week the "THE front" moved through the USA, and watching the Facebook post of friends and family have been interesting. Reports coming in from Alaska, where they are out riding through the snow in the ATVs already; From Boulder, CO where it was in the teens and single digits with snow on the ground (but as we all know it could be 70 there the next day!); My friend in Duluth, MN reported skidding and sliding on the roads, and increased use of her wood pile; and back in Wisconsin the cold hit, the antifreeze levels are being checked and the snow blowers are getting tuned up!
Meanwhile, back in Charlottesville, Jon and I broke out laughing with glee during one of the weather reports on the local news! The reporter was warning everyone to "break out the heavy coats" because "January like" weather would be happening this week. January weather evidently means highs in the 40s and lows in the high 2os.We will take it!!! Something tells me my big faux fur coat won't get used much this year! I wonder what the weather reporters here do with all the left over "minus" signs at the end of the winter... export them to Duluth and Madison?
Meanwhile, back on Facebook, a report came in from Cali that sweaters had to be donned because the temp got down to 70! I guess we humans are both adaptable and our comfort and expectations are all relative. I just hope my blood doesn't thin out too much in this warmer climate. I really don't like the idea of ever feeling I need a down coat or ear muffs (yes I have seen them both) in 40 degree weather!
Hope you are all having a good fall - however you experience it!
I used to have a job that required I travel a lot. It was back in 'the 90s' when computers were either ungainly or impractical to take with you traveling and cellphone minutes were precious and connections precarious. Weekly, I would fly to some hub (Chicago or Detroit) sit for a connection (or miss a connection and sit a long time) and do what people did then in airport waiting areas. Often that meant striking up a conversation with whatever road warrior or weary traveler happened to be in the vicinity. Once boarded on the plane, there was the immediate intimacy of being partnered in a small seating area with a total stranger. Often these were people you had shared eye rolls with when the airline had announced a delay, or they had helped heft your bag into the overhead compartment.
What followed was often a traveler's dance of deciding if conversation was welcome or not. If it was, what followed were usually interesting tales of travels made, airport mishaps and near misses, details of the visits to come at the next destination, business meeting comparisons, and often family histories or insights that seemed so much more confessional or intimate than the situation warranted. The conversations were so prolific and interesting, that I often thought about compiling a book of them - 'Short Stories from Economy Class'.
It has been years now since I was a frequent flyer. I just flew to Wisconsin and back, and realized how times had changed. Earphones. Everywhere. No eye contact, no traveler's camaraderie, road warriors connected only by being wired to the same docking and power stations. Even in the airport bars, the tablets were out, the phones connected and conversations were being held with people around the world, but not at the next bar stool! And the same happened on the planes. The small tablets and 'airplane mode' phones insure close to non-stop connection with anyone other than those next to you.
I am no Luddite. I love technology (see here I am talking to you on the computer!!) but there does seem like a loss here. Never will I get advice on a good restaurant, from the person going home to where I will be a visitor. I once heard trucker stories from a guy who drove trucks across country to deliver them and then flew home - who knew people had that job. That conversation will not happen again. Sure there were many times I hoped beyond hope that the person next to me would NOT talk because I wanted nothing but peace and quiet, but that was easy to signal by closing my eyes, or cracking a book - any experienced traveler knew that meant "do not disturb!"
It is no surprise - all this connectedness and disconnection at the same time, but I have been gone from airports long enough for it to be really noticeable to me. It changed an experience I have always thoroughly enjoyed into a much more mundane one. I hope the guy next to me enjoyed his movie, and the guy across the aisle got all his emails sorted. It sure would have been interesting to know what books all those kindles were tuned to. Guess I will just have to meet them all through Facebook or somewhere else on line.
I had the most magical encounter this AM, just had to tell you all about it. I was walking to the library to return a book (Goldfinch! loved it, and read every one of the 700+ pages!). As I went up one of the side streets, there was a Gingko tree in all its autumnal glory. Not only were its branches filled with gold, but the sidewalk below it was carpeted with gold leaves and diamond raindrops.
I pulled out my cell phone and started taking pictures, when a gentleman (actually a gentle man) walked up and inquired about my love of Gingko trees. He said that he too was a fan and asked if I would do him a favor. He pulled out a camera from his pocket and said he had tried something the day before, but there was no one to help him, so would I mind taking a photo of him under the tree. I said of course I would. He got under the tree and counted to three, at which time he shook the trunk of the tree and it showered down yellow leaves, and I snapped away. He was so excited!
Turns out his father was responsible for the planting of many of Charlottesville's many Gingko trees. This included the giant one on the lawn of the UVA campus. (See picture below) He told me about a long line of Gingkos that had been planted on the UVA lawns, that later had to be taken down because they were all female trees and had stinky fruits! He told me of some streets to wander down where the Gingkos are especially bountiful and beautiful. Such a nice man, and a wonderful encounter. Here is a pic of the UVA Gingko - planted in 1924 - that I took earlier this year, and some more pics from this AM (click on any of them to see a larger slide show:
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !