Hurray for fall! The temperatures are cooling down and the leaves are starting to change color. Even if neither of those are happening where you live, at least the pumpkin spice flavoring is creeping its way into everything so you know it’s autumn. Along one stretch of highway in Oregon, there’s another way to be sure. A giant smiley face emerges from the forest. Back in 2011, the lumber company that owns the land planted larch trees amongst the evergreens. They are deciduous, meaning their needles turn yellow and drop at this time of year. Meanwhile the Douglas fir trees surrounding them, and making up the eyes and mouth, remain green.
We learned about these friendly trees thanks to Boing Boing. The smiling face definitely reminds us of Bob Ross and his hundreds of paintings of happy little trees. Evergreens were one of the staples of his artwork but he was also a master of the autumn color changes.
Maybe one day we’ll drive down highway 18 in Oregon at just the right time of year and see them for ourselves. The face is visible from the road near mile marker 25 and is about 300 feet across. According to Oregon Live, we’ve got 30-50 years to make that happen before the trees are harvested by the lumber company.
As autumn creeps across the country, you can use this fall foliage prediction map to see when your area will hit peak color changes. And if you’re lucky enough to live near the forest’s smiling face, make sure to drive by and smile back.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. Autumn is her favorite season, even in SoCal! Melissa also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.