Fall in Northwest Alabama

Reader Contribution by Mary Carton
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My internet has finally been restored after a system-wide crash. At least we hope. So far so good. Then I had to replace a hard drive in my computer, which promptly crashed about three months later losing everything. I heartily endorse an online backup.

I retired as of September 1, and went part time as needed. I have been running every weekend to some sort of event as a photographer.  I’m not sure how I did that plus work full time. Alabama’s bicentennial is on December 14, 2019 and Mississippi’s is December 10, 2017.  I’ve attended functions in Pontotoc, Mississippi, and Hamilton, Alabama.  The Hamilton event was ended by a ceremony at the grave of those who died during the construction of the Jackson Military Road.  I also photographed my usual Key Underwood Memorial Coondog Cemetery and Oka Kapassa in Tuscumbia.  The Coondog Cemetery is a cemetery only for treeing coondogs. There were arts and crafts, concerts, a liar’s contest, and buck dancing took the stage. We were treated to a tractor parade on decoration day. The Oka Kapassa is a return by Native Americans to commemorate the kindness of the citizens of Tuscumbia shown during the removal to Oklahoma. Tuscumbia is the only city along the Trail of Tears that food, clothing, and medical care was documented. I also photographed the wedding for a friend’s daughter one weekend. 

Patches gave me a scare the weekend of the wedding. After I came home from the rehearsal dinner around 9 p.m., she wasn’t home. I fed Blackie and Levi and waited until daylight to hunt again. I drove around my area and didn’t see her anywhere. I met my high school classmates for breakfast and hunted again afterward. By this time, I decided to post her picture on the local animal control Facebook page and the Remember Tuscumbia page I’m one of the administrators of with almost 6,600 friends. After I did that, I decided to get the tractor out and ride the roads so I could see in the ditches better. Still no luck. I decided to check the road going down to the dead end at the neighbors. As I get to my driveway, there she is, rolled up in the flower bed by the drive giving me that “about time you let me back in” look. I wanted to hug and kill her at the same time. I spent a half an hour thanking all who spared my posts that she was found.

Courtesy of Tony Lee/Norma Glascock

We had my retirement party/fundraiser at the Belle Mont mansion, and it was a great success thanks to my wonderful friends. I’m so blessed. They made food, decorated tables from vines and flowers and cornstalks from everyone’s garden and added hedgeapples, gourds and pumpkins. Many pitched in during the fundraiser when they saw a need. The Tuscumbia Parks and Recreation Department provided the trolley to carry folks up and down the hill from the road.  I can’t express my gratitude for the items donated for the silent auction, many without being asked. They heard what the benefit was for and said, “hey I have this.”  Merchants in Tuscumbia donated coupons and items for a basket that we raffled off.  I had family from Mississippi and friends from Tennessee and Georgia who made the trip over.  I just can’t express my gratitude enough to and for my friends.  We raised a little over $2,500 for the restoration of Belle Mont in the three hours. I’m truly blessed.

Farmers started combining corn that was dry enough before the rains from Irma and finished up after the fields dried enough to get back in. This has been a good year for corn. Yields were running up to around 220 bushels per acre in some fields. The fields have been plowed and ready for planting wheat. Cotton has been defoliated and picking has begun. Some early planted soybeans are being combined. The air is heavy with dust.

Hummingbirds have left for South America. It’s so sad to see them leave each fall. I had 11 feeders up this year. My last sighting was on October 8. I’ll still keep a feeder up for a month until I’m sure they are gone. Their absence has been replaced by butterflies.

After all the events, I needed to get back to nature and took a ride to a few of my birding spots. At nearby Alabama Birding Site 4, the white pelicans were back. I got several shots before heading over to a hotel in Tuscumbia that was hosting the Southside Model A club from Georgia. I’ve never seen so many old cars in one spot. Friday, I left just before sunrise to take shots of the American Queen riverboat as she paid a visit to the Shoals.

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