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For those who don’t know, my daughter graduated from the Nursing Program at Southern Arkansas University in the spring, passed her state boards, and took a job in North Arkansas. Oh, boy, I said to myself, this will be the year when we can finally get to see the leaves change colors in the Ozarks. My wife and I had been trying to go to North Arkansas for the past few years to see the fall colors, and it hadn’t worked out for us. But this would be the year!

As in most things, it didn’t work out the way we planned. Even though we’ve made several trips to her new home, we had to go for various reasons, and these reasons didn’t coincide with the leaves changing colors. Now, we did see the early color changes, but they weren’t that impressive, and we were there last week to be disappointed by most of the colors gone as well as the leaves already off the trees. That sort of made me mad because I had been looking forward to seeing the fall colors this year.

Long story short, we got home from our trip on Sunday night and I didn’t give it any more thought since it was dark, and the wind was blowing like crazy. I did notice that the pine straw was off the top of my house and I wouldn’t have to bother with that. Talk about a blessing! I was up early the next morning, and as I was preparing the coffee, I looked out the kitchen window as I always do. What I saw surprised me.

The dogwood trees along the fence line between our house and our neighbors were a deep red. The oak trees across Greene Street were showing their orange and yellow colors. Now, that got me to thinking, which can be dangerous at times, but not this time. I decided right then and there that I’d drive around town and investigate.

I began my little tour by turning onto Sue Street from No. Jackson. The further I went down the street, the more beautiful the scenery became. When I turned right onto Dogwood, I had to stop and catch my breath. What I would describe as a scene right off a Norman Rockwell painting greeted me. The reds, oranges, yellows and other colors were stunning as they melted together in my mind. Am I in Magnolia, I asked myself.

As I looked around while driving down Dogwood, I realized that the other streets connected to it had beautiful trees lit up in fall colors as well. I drove all the way down Dogwood until I got to Greene and made a left turn. I went up the street and made a left turn onto Pierce. A beautiful tree greeted me as I made the turn. I followed Pierce until I got to Honeysuckle where I made a left and went down to Dogwood, again. I followed Dogwood until I got to Mockingbird and made a right. If you know anything about Magnolia, you’ve probably figured it out by now. I was driving up and down the streets that connect Pierce and Dogwood.

As I was easing along, I saw someone I knew working in their yard. If you know me, you know I had to stop for a visit. What I neglected to say was that there was another reason I stopped. There was one of the most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen in their yard. It was a bright red, the type red that you rarely see except occasionally this time of year. And I had seen some others around town, so I figured this would be my chance to find out about this tree. We talked for a minute before I got down to business. What kind of tree do you have there, I asked. He told me that it was a Japanese maple. That kind of made sense to me since maple trees are known to have some of the most beautiful leaves of any tree when they change color. But this one was special. To me it seemed much brighter than the others I’d seen. After my tour, I realized that there were a number of these trees around town. A small number, but still.

I continued my drive up and down the streets in the area and finally ended my leaf tour on Woodlawn as it came out on E. University. I looked across the street at the walking path at SAU and saw even more beautiful leaves on the trees that lined the pathway. That changed my mind about ending my little excursion, and I drove all around town and out in the country looking at the leaves.

I don’t know, maybe I just didn’t notice, but I’ve never seen the leaves here as beautiful as they are this year. It seems to me that the leaves usually change colors at different times in this part of the country and we never see them in full color all at the same time. This year is different for the most part. There are a few trees that’ve lost their leaves, and they’re some left yet to change colors, but those are few and far between. Rather than the usual, those are the exceptions this year.

If you haven’t looked around or haven’t driven in some of the neighborhoods blessed with these beautiful trees, take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and do so. You won’t be disappointed. But you better hurry, wind and rain are in the forecast and will steal what I believe to be the most beautiful fall we’ve ever had in this part of the country for the leaves changing colors. Enjoy! I know I have.

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