I love North Georgia in autumn.
I say North Georgia because North Georgia is a very different creature from Atlanta or South Georgia or the rest of it. I tell people I’m from Atlanta because nobody outside of Georgia has ever heard of the Medium Town, USA that I grew up in, but in truth I’m from a slower, older, earthier place. Earthy I think is a good word for it, though many other words are needed to describe North Georgia.
I have arrived for a short stay the very same weekend that autumn has arrived. This morning early in the cold I had the quiet joy of driving a winding, familiar journey through farmlands and over tendrils of The Lake. Fog rose in wisps from the water, like a giant steaming bath, and the sun slowly burned through the mist that rested in the fields. Yes, I’m painting you an idyllic picture, but I promise, I’m not exaggerating. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
I broke into a genuine grin yesterday when I caught my first sight of the mountain I grew up on. It’s short and alone, the very, very, very last mountain in the Appalachian chain. Geographers will probably tell you it’s not actually part of the Appalachians; they are mistaken.
This evening, on my way to a church picnic at a local farm market (read: farm market, not farmer’s market – there’s a difference), I saw a coyote trotting along the side of the highway. Blue mountains rolled before me. If I were a more sentimental person, I might tell you they whispered, “Keep driving, come on, don’t stop.” But that would be silly. Mountains don’t whisper, they sing.
I don’t look at this place through rose-colored glasses. I know it’s not perfect (when you know a place’s true beauty, you also know its true faults – maybe that applies to people too, but I think I’m getting overly philosophical) and I may not ever live here again. But wherever I live, whatever place I call home, the rolling hills of North Georgia will always be in some way, Home.
I think that if the blue hills, green fields, and golden fog of North Georgia are but a dim shadow of the beauty of the new heaven and new earth, then eternity will be very glorious indeed.