A Parkway Moment

Late fall, the peak colors of leaves were in full display today, a golden, red and orange quilt that wrapped itself around these mountains. Riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway, high above the valleys, the full regalia of Fall was the backdrop for thousands of selfies and pics. None of which did justice to being there.

The Parkway was bumper to bumper with tourists, who’d driven hours to witness the natural color fest. It was a sight to see, and one couldn’t deny that it was gorgeous and powerful. It was also the area’s most multi-cultural gathering, with groups of all ethnicities partaking in the moment. If nothing can convince one more of the power of nature, this was it.

Riding the Parkway with a friend, we spent an hour climbing the trail below Craggy Gardens, encountering groups of tourists, singles with dogs and a brief vision of the last remaining buffalo. The summit was elusive, but open vistas of Fall colors were a plenty, and remnants of the land’s history were evident. Large granite boulders, old rusty barbed wire and no trespassing signs embedded in trees, all whispering their place in the land’s past. We descended from the ridge line and continued our drive through the shimmering and golden canopy of leaves.

At a point just beyond town mountain road, we pulled over on a patch of grass and trees. There we split a can of hard cider and lay down blankets. It wasn’t an official “scenic pullover” but we weren’t alone. A gray-haired, pony-tailed Johnny Cash look a like was strumming his guitar and singing old tunes to his female companion. His voice was strong and soothing, his guitarmanship superb.

Not long after we’d been sitting, another car pulled over. It was a young Asian man with his parents, and they were enamored of the leaves, and the music. While the son watched, the parents joined the singer. It was then that the guitarist and the Asian man started singing a duo of ‘Country Roads’. With his wife and son looking on, the two joined in a magical moment, the man’s operatic and accented rendition a testimony of that song’s universal appeal. I could swear I saw John Denver smiling down on the two from the sky above. The white haired man strummed his guitar in perfect sync with the Asian man, the two capturing a moment that I wish could’ve been recorded for all to view. It was a moment that gives one faith in humanity, where two strangers from different cultures unite. Set against the golden hues of Fall, the air pungent with decaying leaves and a warm breeze, it was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever been so lucky to witness. Moments like this don’t come often, and they’re never planned. But up on the Parkway in late Fall, people come together to share nature’s splendor. And just for a moment, all seems sublime.

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