Gathering Up the Leaves
Staring out the window, this morning, I’m greeted by trees that are nearly bare set against a crisp morning sky of blue and silver. Though it was bursting with color and motion just two weeks ago — the emerald canopy transformed into countless shards of stained glass by the sun — the forest now looks hollow, brittle, and dormant, wearing the face of winter already.
As promised, autumn has come and gone with great speed, this year. The temperature will flirt with Indian Summer here and there, prompting you to shed that sweater as you gather up the leaves and fling them away to the forest floor. The dried leaves, baking in the golden afternoon sun send up a faint, sweet aroma of tea and spice mixed with earth and decay, sending the mind reeling into the past where autumn tends to take us. And yet, autumn can already be referred to in the past tense.
Amidst all our busyness and travel, James and I were able to get out and enjoy a bit of autumn’s grandeur. Earlier in October, we traveled up to the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula for a fall color tour in Emmet County.
We headed north on Michigan’s famed Tunnel of Trees — a road scarcely larger than a sidewalk — where M-119 traces the coastline heading northward from Harbor Springs, MI. Stopping here and there to take in the scenery, we also stopped in at Pond Hill Farm to admire their massive pumpkin field and beautiful farmland.
Just inside Emmet County, sitting snugly within Little Traverse Bay, Petoskey boasts scenery to rival New England — especially in autumn. It has a delightful downtown area for leisurely window shopping and a beautiful lakefront park where you can see all the way across the bay to Harbor Springs.
For a large portion of our trip, the weather was not fully cooperative. In fact, during our brief hike down the Bear River Trail, we witnessed sun, overcast skies, rain, and sleet! Needless to say, when I stopped to snap a photo of a beautiful scene, the light would sometimes change before I could get the photo.
Autumn has been so fleeting that we’ve had to chase after it, driving near and far to try and outrun the wind and rain that seems determined to blur and wash away the colors like a cold downpour on colorful sidewalk drawings. Thankfully, there were several moments when we found ourselves surrounded by autumn rather clinging to its shirttails.
On our way home, enduring yet more rain and dreary skies, we took a chance and stopped off in Antrim County to see Deadman’s Hill Overlook. In another of those moments of autumnal serendipity, we reached the overlook just in time for the clouds to briefly part and let in just enough sunlight to illuminate the beautiful colors.
The immense scale of the overlook, which offers a dramatic, sweeping view of the Jordan River Valley, was nearly impossible for me to capture in photographs. We stood there as long as the weather would allow, taking it in… the quiet of the forest below with more storms moving in from the west.
As sad as I am to see the leaves depart and a swirling eddy of gold and brown dwindling with each passing day the last remnants of autumn, I know that this mystical time between autumn and winter holds a beauty all its own. I hope you’re able to get out and enjoy it while it lasts.
Can’t get enough fall color?
Go to our Facebook Page and have a look at the slideshow from our recent trip to the Chicago Botanic Gardens.