Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Leaves are beginning to turn on the hills. Maples and other brilliant fall foliage landmarks will soon rival the crawling school buses with their golden appearance. Morning chills signal the change of season as rough-hewn stacks of wood nestled near many homes become suddenly more important.
Children all across Four Seasons Country are back in classes with summer fading rapidly in the background. Already there is talk of homecoming as clubs prepare for early meetings. School pictures are now taken in some area facilities with yearbook staffs planning layout designs.
Warm weather paving projects are completed or nearly so in a host of communities. Highways stretch proudly with the new coats of asphalt in advance of the winter weather onslaught. Nevertheless, snow blades are being inspected and supplies of salt being laid away for future use by a dedicated group of highway workers who will soon be on the move to serve the public.
Sounds of cheering float above a score of football stadiums in every corner of our region. Buzzers signal points in gyms where volleyball is being played and local golf teams are on the links. Student-athletes, like generations of youngsters before them, are grappling with the demands of coaches after days of note taking in classrooms before practices. Cheerleaders have routines perfected and patrol pep rallies and sidelines with equal fervor.
Summer band camps prepared area musicians for their routines, as well, and fans are enthused about the marching exhibitions. Thousands will stand to hear their children and friends render “The Star Spangled Banner” at county games everywhere in and out of the Daily Telegraph circulation area. On many Friday mornings students will stand in quiet admiration as groups like the Green-T Singers at Tazewell High School serenade the student body with the Alma Mater.
In all areas of local stores, displays reflect the movements of seasons. Employees who stock shelves have nearly finished the turnaround as fall fashions are displayed. Heavy clothing has replaced shorts and t-shirts as the items of choice with a clear respect for the thermometer soon to be headed downward. School clothes are safely hanging in closets by now.
Clothes are not the only items being rearranged these days. Although Labor Day has not been gone a week from the calendar, Halloween candy is working its way into displays as astute merchants recognize the growing financial impact of the holiday now listed as one of the most important to bottom lines in the candy, costume, and greeting card industries. With the tasty treats and little goblins on the near horizon, can Charlie Brown and the giant pumpkin be far behind?
Near and far away, turkey farms are no doubt making plans for the Thanksgiving season, as well. Cranberry commercials dot the TV screens from coast to coast. Magazines of all kinds will be including holiday menus in upcoming editions. Cooking shows are previewing such specials for kitchen chefs who will all too soon be fretting (in a good way) about the meals which must be prepared.
Moms are beginning to be at peace with the empty rooms right now as sons and daughters live somewhere like Blacksburg, Morgantown, Charlottesville, Athens, Bluefield, Emory, or Knoxville these days. Although many will make weekend visits, it will be those same holiday weekends that parents will eagerly await so they can see the college kids again.
Those reunions, however, will include a realization that home for the young folks is rapidly becoming someplace else. Within another year, the tearful departures will have developed into a smooth transition as daughters and sons will no longer cry at leaving but be anxious to get back to the dorms or apartments where their new friends will be waiting for another eventful semester.
Meanwhile, older guys and gals pack up the vans, SUVs, and trucks for tailgate efforts at many of those same schools. Flapping flags, stickers, and other brightly colored paraphernalia proclaim allegiance to the Mountaineers, Rams, or Mountain Lions, among others, as autumn hopes for all are still bright this early in the year. Hunters are eager to move into another deer season. Towns with fall festivals have schedules prepared from Cedar Bluff and Burkes Garden to the Rhythm and Roots Reunion in nearby Bristol.
On this beautiful Saturday, may you be headed for a grand time somewhere in the friendly confines of Our Grand Area.
Larry Hypes, a teacher at Tazewell High School, is a Daily Telegraph columnist.