In elementary school we all remember learning that 2+2=4, how to properly hold a pencil, and that every year the seasons change. When school starts in the fall, the leaves are supposed to change colors and begin to drop just like the temperature until it’s dark and cold, ready to snow in the winter. After everything defrosts, spring quickly comes along with new life and April showers bring May flowers that lead us into the warm sticky summer months that are best spent at the beach. However, this New Orleans native had only ever experienced two real seasons living below sea level–hot damp summers and cold wet winters–and I was starting to believe that the magic of color-changing leaves in fall was just a myth.
During my first autumn on the Mountain I was met with pure delight as I discovered all the Domain had to offer. Huge multi-colored acorns decorated the ground while surprisingly friendly squirrels scavenged through pinecones. You’re met with a crisp evening chill that can only be remedied by hot chocolate from Stirling’s. Although all of these things are special in their own way, nothing can quite compare to the enchantment of the changing leaves. I found myself stopping on walks to class asking my more northward friends “Wait this doesn’t just happen in movies?” while witnessing the gilded leaves dwindle down to the concrete. Apparently this really does happen in many places.
This semester I am no longer a stranger to our fascinating flora and have decided to take advantage of the diverse tree species all around us and identify the best color changing fall leaves on campus. When looking for the leading leaves on campus, certain factors come into play such as color, shape, and accessibility. While we are lucky enough to be surrounded by a multitude of trails and hikes throughout the Domain, as the semester begins to wind down and to-do lists start to pile up, I’ve found the greatest appreciation for the stunning scenes I come across when trekking to the library or heading to meet a study group.
If you’re running late to class in Gailor (which I usually am), make sure you take the extra second— you’re already late, what’s one more second going to do?– and look up at the colossal Sycamore tree colored with bright blonde leaves. Each one resembles a star, with five sharp points. The leaves disassociate from their routine green hue and transform into little bursts of sunshine that can illuminate any particularly gray Sewanee day. When you have a couple minutes to spare with a friend make sure to admire them littering the Japanese Garden like confetti while relaxing in the adirondack chairs.
The bright, fiery red leaves of the sugar maple trees by the tennis courts are some of the best on campus. These leaves are the epitome of Sewanee fall and definitely worth the walk to see them in person. Their orangey-red hue resembles the most beautiful sunsets you can see at Morgan Steep. The pointed edges of the leaves and their orange red color are reminiscent of a warm fire perfect for escaping brisk fall nights up on the Mountain.
I saved the best for last. If you check out any of these places, make sure it is this one: the Cross. The Cross is known as one of the most iconic outlooks on campus and is also home to the finest fall leaves. There are a wide variety of colors and shapes to see. Brilliant yellow-greens juxtaposed with deep, rich chocolate browns make for breathtaking views. Looking up you can see the straggling remains of summer on the branches of river birch and black walnut trees. Crisp leaves crunch under your Blundstones as you walk around adoring the picturesque scene. Grab your friends and head that way for a serene Sunday afternoon.
Fall is truly one of the most special times of the year especially at Sewanee; the campus transforms and provides scenes that are quintessentially fall. I hope you all take the time to check out some of these gorgeous spots around the campus before the winter freeze rolls in and the branches become barren.