Saturday, November 01, 2008

First frost

Last year's first frost in the Ozark Highlands found me southeast Missouri wearing shorts and playing badminton in my backyard. Not only did I miss all the fall color, I missed the formation of elegant frost flowers, the result of freezing water in the stems of plants of the genus Eupatorium and Verbesina. I found myself in the lovely Current River Hills last week, just as the oaks and hickories were blasting the landscape with red and yellow leaves.

The first frost in the Ozarks hit the valleys outside of Van Buren, Missouri pretty hard. The turning leaves hit fast forward Tuesday night when temperatures dropped to 21 degrees as I was comfortably warm with plenty of firewood in a CCC cabin at Big Spring. By Wednesday morning, the steep hillsides in the area that Monday promised picture perfect fall colors had turned a uniform brown. I had great hopes of sharing the splendor of Missouri's fall colors with my friends in the South who are surrounded by (equally cool, really!) pine and cypress communities. Admittedly, however, the maples throughout Columbia are stellar right now.

So, see, frost flowers at Big Spring and charming 1930s cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps that have great stone fireplaces and comfortable beds.

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