I love the fall! If it were up to me, we would have fall weather for eleven months of the year. This fall, however, is having real ups and downs.
The Reston Farmers Market (RFM) at Lake Anne is always beautiful in the fall. Gourds, pumpkins, apples, deep greens like broccoli and kale and bright colored peppers, exotic Asian herbs, red and gold beets fill our stands. This October it dawned on me that it is even greater than ever. The varieties of vegetables and fruits at the Market this late in the year are several times what farmers were bringing to the market in 1998. Back in those early days, the produce selection dropped sharply in September and pickins were quite scarce by October. On Oct. 8, 2016, one vendor alone, The Farm at Sunnyside, a certified organic grower from the Shenandoah, had exactly fifty different varieties for sale in their stand. Fifty as in 5-0! Other produce vendors were not very far behind. This explosion of selection plus availability earlier as well as later in the year are the result of improved seeds, growing methods (such as widespread use of hoop houses), and, yes, climate change in Virginia, W. Va., and Maryland. Good news! So good that next year, you may see the Fairfax County-sponsored Reston Farmers Market season begin the first week in May and last until mid-December!
Some bad news. Have you noticed that while our temperatures have turned to fall-like, Reston’s trees have very little of our typical fall colors? Most are more greenish turning brown, even though the leaves are starting to fall. A few sugar maples and dogwoods are showing splotches of reddish color, but otherwise the usual oranges, yellows and reds are largely absent. Arborists tell me that the long hot, dry spells we experienced in July-August seriously hurt our trees. If you look closely, you’ll see some that are dying, in fact. This is also the case in many other eastern and northeastern states.
We are heading for Harpers Ferry, W. Va. this weekend in hopes of seeing more of the beautiful trees which we are missing in Reston.
The truly ugly dimension of fall in Reston and across the U.S. of A. is the American political process at its worst. The campaign has been underway forever. The primaries had interesting dimensions and useful public policy debates, particularly on the Democratic side where two capable politicians fought hard, but ultimately agreed on a set of policies that fit fairly neatly into what I’d call the center-left of the political spectrum.
Republicans started with nearly 20 candidates, a group so large they couldn’t fit on one debate stage. What began as a potentially useful debate between a couple center-right and the majority far right voices morphed into a race for the way out right among all but one—Donald Trump. This is the person the media made the center of their universe, monopolizing print headlines daily and starting every TV news program, and interrupting others, with news of his every utterance—coherent or not. Heading into the home stretch, Trump has insulted and abused woman, attacked and belittled every minority group, and failed to string together any coherent policy vision and has a faithful following of the hurt, angry, bigoted or lost totaling maybe 40 percent of Americans in his column!
So, Wednesday evening, with the Nats knocked out of the baseball playoffs, we are left to watch the mercifully final debate between the two major party presidential candidates at the Kalypso in Lake Anne, the Old Brogue or perhaps a pub in Reston Town Center (free parking!) with alcohol and friends to ease our national pain.