This evening, I went for a wonderful walk in the woods, near my home in northern Michigan. Despite the lack of sunshine and the threat of rain, I ventured onto one of my favorite trails. It’s a shady path, lined with tall pine trees, that divides at a crossroads into three distinct routes, which meet again at the top of the middle one, creating a lopsided loop, cleaved in two. I’d left my weights at home and taken my camera instead. Borrowing an idea from my friend Becky, I wanted to capture the fall colors before they faded into memory.
As I hiked the middle route of my favorite trail system and looped back to the crossroads, I couldn’t help but notice mankind’s influence: deep truck ruts, chopped logs, “No Hunting” signs here and there. But, even with such reminders of civilization as well as the cool raindrops that fell on my silly hatless head, I savored the kaleidoscopic forest that enveloped me. Leaves of nearly every hue – crimson, orange, yellow-green, brown, and purple – were everywhere. Even my beloved blueberry patch, always eerily lit by sunshine even on an overcast day, was surrounded by trees that resembled the fluorescent Play-Doh from my childhood.
During this damp but rewarding walk, I realized that Becky was right: Northern Michigan is “the most incredibly beautiful place.” Of course, I also thought about my lifelong fascination with autumn, which has in fact been my favorite season for as long as I can remember – and truly a delight for the senses. The sight of vibrant colors, the smell of burning leaves, the taste of hot apple cider, the feel of a cool crisp breeze, and the sound of revelry in the French Quarter.
Because, yes, I attribute my love for the fall, in part, to the holidays in October and November – namely, Halloween and the Day of the Dead, holidays that celebrate those who have passed between life and death. What an appropriate time for such a celebration – after all, isn’t that what all those vibrant leaves represent? A time of transition, between the vitality of summer and the dormancy of winter? As I returned home and gazed at the nearby cove, I thought that death had never seemed more beautiful...
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