22 November 2011

An Autumn Sojourn

It wasn't a willing one, but at least part of it was pleasant!

I took my Thanksgiving leave a little bit differently this year, so that I was at work today. In hindsight, this may have been a mistake, as many people take Wednesday off and leave early on Tuesday. The roads were already a wreck by two o'clock and by quitting time the traffic map online was turning colors not seen in nature. (Who knew there was a redder red for hopelessly snarled traffic? I didn't want to see it turn purple!) So naturally I had to come home via surface streets.

The weather had been unpleasantly warm and still at lunchtime when I emerged from the building (thankfully the sun was mostly obscured by clouds or it would have been much warmer than the mid 70s), but a breeze was building up by the time lunch was over, tossing pine straw and the odd acorn from the trees. The breeze was still playing about the fading leaves as I left work.

This surface-street route takes a while, but is generally rewarding. The first part of the route takes me through Dresden Drive, which is now a mix of older homes and new development. The streets were already outlined with rows of brittle, brown leaves, with a broken line of crushed leaves in the center of the road.

Once having crossed Peachtree Road, I am in my favorite portion of the ride, driving through the Brookhaven neighborhood. Again, this is an old neighborhood where older homes are gradually being remodeled or struck down for newer homes. The designs are varied, from low ranch homes to one French plantation reproduction, to saltbox or Georgian-fronted edifices. My favorite are the stone and brick houses that look to me like English hunting lodges. I have one in particular I'm very fond of, in a warm, dark brown stone, and it looks like it's finally been purchased. Oh, how I would love to decorate it, especially at Christmas, imagining it in holly swags and wreaths with bright red ribbons! I love my home, but I've never gotten over my "English hunting lodge" envy (or my Craftsman home envy, either). Here again, the gutters were overflowing with thick ribbons of browning leaves, as I left Brookhaven and drove along Windsor Road and finally into Chastain Park.

By now the sky was grey and lowering. The autumn color has definitely faded everywhere, and Chastain Park was merely an obstacle course of speed bumps and cars jockeying for parking spaces for an after-work walk. The final pleasant part of the ride was down Mount Paran Road, where a few more "English hunting lodges" were passed—including the one with the waterfall out front! "Mr. Inflatable," our name for the guy on the corner of the pretentious neighborhood near the end of Mount Paran, appeared not to have his decorations out yet, and had nothing for Thanksgiving! However, one big white house was already decked out with thousands of white lights and snowflake-shaped light ornaments, which shone out brightly as it became darker.

Then it started to rain and the rest of the sojourn was more like a miserable trudge for the car, while I roasted inside (since I had to close the windows) until I finally surrendered and put the air conditioner on.

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