On walks, or morning runs, around Greenville it’s impossible not to notice something botanical. This is about as green a place as I’ve ever lived (and aptly named). Even in the middle of what passes for a Carolina Winter we have plants blooming, roses in December, camellias in February, and much of the foliage remains green. On first arriving here I was nearly overwhelmed by greenery. I am not alone in this. Many art students here find themselves collecting, drawing, painting, and/or forming seedpods and leaf shapes of every variety. It creeps into your visual vocabulary like Kudzu*.
Spring is coming. In North Carolina azaleas, rhododendron, crepe myrtle, and the ever magnificent magnolia will bloom along with countless other flowering plants, many of which look like they're downright out of Jurassic Park. But it’s the leaves that fall I find fascinating.
In autumn the multitude of leaf shape, surface, and variegation leaves (ahem!) me breathless sometimes. Some are quite intense, if fleeting. I find that very appealing. While spring has its undeniable charms I am reminded in fall ** of both the temporal nature and individual beauty of each passing year. It heightens my appreciation for every other season ~ those in nature and in our own lives.
*Introduced in the US in 1876 from Japan it was promoted as soil erosion control in the 1930s and it’s been growing ever since. It can grow as much as one foot per day in summer months.
** The story goes that “fall” is an American colonial word for autumn because New England settlers were amazed at the sudden dropping of leaves from the brilliantly colored deciduous trees.