To the point week of 10-25-07

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IN SPITE OF THE RAIN that fell (and fell, and fell…) earlier this week, 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 farmer 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 I to travel to Nashville, Indiana, for two days of meetings with the state newspaper association. Known for its scenic beauty, I found the area 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.

When I see Switzerland County at this time of the year, I am always taken back to my youth, and as my car today motors its way along the River Road, I go a little slower and gaze a little longer – in awe of everything that I find around me.

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

In my desk drawer I keep a wide variety of things, and one of those is a clipping from a Vevay Newspaper from October 6th, 1994. It was written by one of the true icons of Switzerland County and of Vevay Newspapers – “Grandma” Wilma McClellan. Writing her Tapps Ridge news, Wilma always had a way of “painting” a vivid picture for her faithful readers, first from her Tapps Ridge home and later from the Swiss Villa Living Center.

Wilma’s been gone awhile now, and office manager Ginny Leap and I – and I’m sure many of you – miss her greatly. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and the incredible talent that she had and that she shared with all of us. Her homespun way of telling a story or relating a piece of news not only informed us, but it also brought us together as a part of the fabric of this community.

I especially think of Wilma in the fall, because she loved to tell all of us about the autumn colors that she witnessed.

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

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 in the fall of the year.”

Well said, Grandma Wilma. Well said.