Fall is my favorite season, largely for the feeling that comes with the season, and for the beauty that accompanies such feelings—or perhaps the beauty comes first and the emotions second…
Though I grew up in Clark, I attended High School in Steamboat Springs, a 35 minute drive each way. My commute was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the gifts of the Elk River Valley, and it was often a time of deep thought and reflection, especially in autumn.
Driving home on those fall days, in the late afternoon, when the sun was in the West, the air was cool, and the cottonwoods golden, I wound along the road next to the Elk River with the window rolled down. In the stretches where the river came close to the road, it sent chilly waves through my window, and I could smell the cold river, and with it came a sense of nostalgia. What is it about fall that brings on such wistfulness? It is still a mystery to me.
As I grew older and went away to college, I found myself longing for the valley I was suddenly without. I made it a priority to return to the beloved valley every fall for my October birthday.
One of those indelible fall days, I recall sitting on the porch, indulging in one of Chef Clyde’s fabulous lunches and laughing with my family in the crisp fall air. The leaves were busy with their own soft chatter, my hands were almost cold, but the gentle sun would warm them once I moved my chair into its beam. Satiated, calm and happy I closed my eyes and disappeared into the tranquility that is fall. Then roused by my sister’s ever active self, I meandered down to the barn and set out on an afternoon ride.
There is nothing in the world like wandering through a golden aspen tree tunnel via horseback, with a friend by your side and the feeling that you are exactly where you are supposed to be in that moment.
To me fall is much more than the leaves changing—it is a time to reflect, to relax, to be in awe at the changing world around you, and a time to reconnect. It is the most cherished time of year for me, a time that offers an invitation into a uniquely calm and quiet world.
All Photos By Sarah Parry
Essay and Sarah Parry Bio by Laura Fisher
Sarah Parry is the granddaughter of Steve and Ann Stranahan, and the daughter of Scott and Frances Parry. Sarah came to the Home Ranch many times as a child to visit and experienced the unique friendships that formed in the context of ranch life.
She spent the summer and fall of 2010 at The Home Ranch while working on a photo project for school- Maumee Valley Country Day School-in Ohio.
Sarah and I share an affinity for the valley having spent many days together over the past few years. She is now truly like the younger sister I never had. Sarah found a sense of self and independence in her time at The Home Ranch last fall. She said "Clark opened her heart" and allowed her to see that "the world was bigger" than she previously understood. She credits the Elk River Valley for bringing her a new perspective and maturity.
These photos come from the same place in her heart, as words do from mine, that is mystified by the effects of fall. Being such close friends it feels only right to discuss the valley in words and photos of a season that truly takes one's breath away, in the best of ways.