Seasons change subtly in Fayetteville. Or perhaps we should say, people in Fayetteville change subtly with the seasons.
From the windows of Lafayette Flats we have a unique perspective on these changes. We have a bird’s eye view of Waterstone Outdoors, New River Bikes, and a long view down Court Street to the visitor’s center. From here we see many indicators of seasonal change, like:
Hats – Early spring toboggans change to ball caps and visors, then to floppy sun hats and then cycle back through ball caps to toboggans. Early season toboggans are usually snug fitting and the further into winter we go the looser and more decorative they become. There is one particular style of hat that we have come to think of as the quintessential “Fayetteville Hat”: The no-frills ski cap worn by seemingly 85% of Waterstone Outdoors customers.
Cars, or more importantly, what is strapped to cars – Generally speaking, cars in the spring rarely have more than one or two kayaks or bikes attached. Heading into summer, the number of bikes multiply but kayaks stay the same. In the fall Gauley Season, both the number of cars with kayaks and the number of kayaks per vehicle explodes: We’ve seen as many as 12 cars in a row coming up Court Street with as many as 6 kayaks per car in Gauley Season.
Buses – We never get tired of seeing busloads of rafters headed up Court Street on their way to the put-in at Cunard. The number of buses and the number of passengers on the buses swells rapidly after the first few weeks of season and remains strong through summer until school buses start to roll, then fades away as traffic is diverted to the Gauley.
Speed – The pace of life changes with the seasons as well. In the summertime people on the streets of Fayetteville seem to be moving quickly, trying to get things done so they can head out to do what they really want to be doing like climbing or kayaking. In the winter, there are certainly far fewer people out and most of them seem to be contemplative; perhaps wistfully dreaming of warmer weather or pondering whether there is enough daylight left to head off on a hike or a bike ride.
As we sit here in the dead of winter, it’s hard to imagine that the sun will shine warmly again and that the cycle of seasons will begin anew. Groundhog day is just a couple of weeks away, and then – hopefully – an early spring?