To the point week of 10-16-08

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IN SPITE OF THE ONCE IN A LIFETIME (we hope) windstorm that rolled through the county last month, this is a beautiful and wonderful time to be in Switzerland County.

The leaves are changing colors, turning the hillsides into pallets containing thousands of colors.

When I was a youngster, Sunday afternoons often meant taking a drive with my family. There never seemed to be any logic to where we were going or how long we would be gone; but usually the afternoon was spent meandering through the countryside.

As the year moved along, the scenery changed quite a bit. From farmers planting their crops to later cultivating and then harvesting them, if we took the same route often enough, it was though we had gotten to know each and every resident along the way.

I remember many times traveling through Versailles State Park, and then making the drive down Highway 129 to Vevay, where we’d cross the Ohio River on the ferry and then make our way along the shoreline before taking another ferry back across the river into Indiana.

Of all of my memories of those Sunday afternoon drives, I think the ones that I remember the most were those autumn days when the weather was warmed by the sun just enough that you couldn’t decide if you needed a jacket or not.

Too warm for a coat in the sunshine, but walking into the shade sent a fall chill through each of us.

Occasionally we would take a break from our drive and escape the car for a walk through some woods or along some field. The trees would seem as though they had been painted because the colors were so vivid, and those leaves that had already fallen made a crunching noise as we walked along.

That’s the beauty of this season, and that’s the beauty of Switzerland County.

Want to feel that same magic? Drive down Bennington Pike under the natural canopy of the fall leaves. Drive along Bethel Ridge and Beatty Ridge. Drive to the top of Little Hominy and gaze back down toward the Ohio River.

Go up Highway 129 to Long Run Church and look to the east across the entire county. On a clear day you can see the smoke from the power plant near Rising Sun off in the distance.

Between those two spots are thousands of colors and spectacles that no one can recreate on canvas.

Drive from there along Parks Ridge, or continue on to Moorefield and head down Smith’s Ridge.

That’s the beauty of Switzerland County in autumn – there isn’t a bad drive in the county.

Many times we take for granted the beauty that is around us, and the slower pace of life that makes this such a wonderful community.

Each year about this time I have to travel to Nashville, Indiana, for two days of meetings. Known for its scenic beauty, I find the area is indeed filled with beautiful scenery, but I believe that Switzerland County’s hillsides and valleys are just as pretty – and we have the majestic Ohio River flowing right through the middle of it all.

As I left that community and drove out past the state park and on toward Columbus, I looked at the hillsides and thought about how spectacular the hillsides are here. Streams reminded me of Indian Creek along Culbertson Road; or Turtle Creek as it spills into the Ohio at Florence.

When I have to be away I am always anxious to get back home, but each time I reenter Switzerland County I find myself slowing down and taking in the beauty and the scenery that makes this such a special place.

I was taken back to my youth, and as my car motored its way along the River Road, I went a little slower and gazed a little longer – in awe of everything that I found around me.

But I’m not the only one who looks out and sees nature’s beauty here.

Life gets busy here in the Vevay Newspapers office, but as the years pass by, there are times when we are drawn back to memories of a very special person whose words graced the pages of this newspaper.

It’s been five years since “Grandma” Wilma McClellan passed away, leaving a hole in this community as much as leaving a hole where her weekly “Tapps Ridge News” report always was found.

Office manager Ginny Leap and I both miss her greatly, and not a day goes by that we don’t think of her and the wonderful words that she spun into memories for us and many others.

It is something that no one could write better, so I think it’s only fitting that I share those words with you today:

Her health had forced her off of Tapps Ridge and down to a room at the Swiss Villa Living Center, but she never stopped telling folks about the beauty that she saw around her. I use this passage on occasion, partly because it pays tribute to a wonderful lady; and partly because it helps me remember how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place.

From Tapps Ridge news October 6th, 1994 :

“Hello friends and neighbors from Swiss Villa Living Center. The old grey mare ain’t what she used to be but I am doing well here at the care center.

“It’s a beautiful time of year. I have a beautiful view from my window. I watch the school children come and go. I watched Mr. Art Johns and the workers trim the trees and a man mowing grass across the road. Fall is in the air so everyone is getting things ready for the winter.

“Now you don’t have to go to Brown County to see beauty when the leaves turn. Go down Atkinson Hill or up Plum Creek and down Red Hog Pike. It’s beautiful here in the fall of the year.”

Take some time out of your busy schedule, load the family in the car (gas is cheap) and take a little drive in the coming days. Roll the windows down and check out all of the scenery that you’ve driven by hundreds of times, but never slowed down to appreciate.