November 2009
Home Grown Tomatoes

Chasing Fall Color in Alabama


A pen and ink of the “Green Pitcher Plant” by Lisa Opielinski.

For the last several years I have spent my November days winterizing the garden and moving tender plants into the greenhouses; canning the last of the harvests and laying plans for my holiday hibernation. However, this year has been totally different. The weather completely cooperated with my growing season. I had the best harvests ever here at the Tomato Tower, and the fruits and veggies matured at the optimal intervals, thus allowing me to eat some and put away some.

The weather has also been more like the old normal, where we have a gradual cool down instead of going from 88° to 38° within four hours. This has allowed me to do a little winterizing along the way and now, I’m caught up!

Since I suddenly find myself with a chance to breathe, I am going to chase some autumnal eye-candy and take a road trip to a place I have only heard fall color stories about - Little River Canyon.

Sure, I have been there before, but only in the spring or summer. I have heard stories about the trees’ explosion of colors this time of year and I have been following the naturalists’ reports on the peak. It just so happens their predictions place the prime time for viewing and photographing the colors on the weekend of November 7th and I’ll be there!

Wow! There’s more than just tree watching to do too! Saturday, November 7, is also the date set for Canyon Fest 2009 at Jacksonville State University’s Little River Canyon Center.

I toured their facility a while back and it is quite impressive. A registered LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building, the Canyon Center is perched atop a scenic ridge just north of Fort Payne. If you approach the Center from the north on Alabama Highway 35 (Pumpkin Center, AL), you will see the magnificent structure appear over the ridge, towering up among the beautiful array of fall colors.

At the Canyon Fest, the area will be filled with a diversity of artists and entertainers, certainly the most talented in Alabama. According to Renee Morrison, the Center’s Field School Coordinator, there will be "public land groups, music of the Appalachian region, painters, sculptors" and more.

For the kids (and adults), Renee said she will, "lead an ‘un-natural hike’ where kids will be taught the ABCs of observation hiking." There will also be a snake exhibit among other activities.

One of the most attractive things to me about a festival is the food. The Canyon Fest boasts the "finest kind of handheld food in Alabama" with L’il Rob’s Organic Hotdogs. Sweet potato biscuits, barbecue and Annie’s Bakery of Ft. Payne will be there with home-made baklava & other Greek pastries!

Look for me at the Canyon Center or ask a helper where to find me there and let me give you a guided tour of one of our state’s premier nature education facilities.

Canyon Fest 2009. It’s a celebration of the environment and the arts!

Puff the Cat (1999-2009)


The Little River Canyon Center is located at 472 AL Hwy 35 in Fort Payne.

This article is dedicated to Puff the Cat (1999-2009), a garden writer’s friend.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

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