Fall: Art In The Park, And Something In The Air

Message From The Director

Last week I was in the South Carolina mountains and it hit me, not a great idea or a profound revelation, but rather the cool breezes and morning temperatures of fall. It was also a reminder of the unique things that occur during the fall in South Carolina State Parks.  

There are few views in South Carolina, or anywhere else for that matter, that compare to the view at Caesars Head State Park across the Dismal toward the back side of Table Rock Mountain. Regardless of the time of year, the view is spectacular. In spring, with a fresh blanket of green and even winter, where spots of green from the evergreens accent the bare branches of the hardwoods, all beneath a sky that seems to get even brighter blue as the temperatures drop. But it’s fall when the view really puts on a show. It’s the mixture of yellows, reds and greens that define the fall color of the Blue Ridge. 

This time of year the view is also above the trees at Caesars Head. The brilliant blue sky you’re familiar with suddenly changes, like the brewing of a thunderhead before a summer storm. The sky turns dark, not from clouds but from hawks, often hundreds of them. Caesars Head is a hot spot for hawk migration, one of nature’s most spectacular events. Each year thousands of hawks migrate south leaving their summer homes for warmer southern climates.  Caesars Head, located along the Appalachian Flyway, provides a unique viewing platform to witness this annual event. Migration begins in August and continues until early December with peak flights mid to late September. The annual migration takes a tremendous amount of energy and the hawks rely on rising warm air masses, called thermals, to obtain lift and soar with little to no energy.  As a bird enters a thermal, it gains altitude by circling upward on the rising central column of air, glides out and hitches a ride on the next thermal. This process allows migrating hawks to cover great distances using very little of their own energy. Talk about hitching a ride! The seasonal migration occurs like clockwork, and is one of those annual events in nature that you’ve got to experience.  

While the hawks are migrating in the mountains, the artisans are gathering at Atalaya for the annual Arts and Crafts festival at
 Huntington Beach State Park. Atalaya was the winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Ann Hyatt Huntington was a noted sculptress, and her winter home is now home to the Atalaya Festival. A trip inside the home takes you back to another era: long halls, dark corners, unique architecture, and a sense of history. The original
 ironwork on the doors, brick work, fireplaces and the skylight in Mrs. Huntington’s studio transport you to a bygone era- feel Anna Hyatt Huntington’s inspiration!  You’ll see her inspiration come to life as you walk among new artisans showcasing their work.
The artwork continues throughout the month of October as South Carolina hosts one of the longest fall leaf seasons in the nation.  The fall colors seem to pour off the palette from the mountains down to the sea ushering in winter and the holidays.  It’s my favorite time of the year, the fall. It’s time for campfires and memories, time for Halloween camping and fall hikes, time for that southern tradition of taking walks on the beach in flip flops and sweat shirts.  There is something in air and I can’t wait!

See you in the parks!