Carrot, pumpkin, cinnabar, tomato, persimmon. For the past few weeks I’ve been reveling in shades of orange. Nearly every day, I’ve gone out into the woods to walk, to smell the slight funk of decaying leaves, to watch the animals scurrying around as they prepare for winter, but mostly to soak in the mutable color.
I love hiking in the fall. Actually, all seasons have their magic, but right now I’m feeling the fall. Friends are probably tired of my photos popping up on FB, but I don’t care – it makes me happy.
Getting out for even a couple miles in the woods is good for the spirit. Each day I walk into a slightly different hue, a changed landscape, as the ground shifts from green to brown, bare to mounds of yellow/red/orange/brown, soft to crunchy. Some days I cover many miles, climbing up for a long view across the valleys. Other days I stay down in protected glens and feel wrapped in color. A few times I’ve taken a magnifying glass with me to examine the world closely. And then there are days when I just sit and listen to leaves fall.
Yesterday I hiked a route I hadn’t been on for a long time. I wandered through one of the valleys which had burned a few years ago when the forest burned to within less than a mile of my house. (note: if you are a smoker – and you shouldn’t be – DO NOT toss matches or cigarettes out the window or drop them while out hiking!!) There was a section where the fire had been most intense. Everything had burned, tree roots had burned underground, nothing was left, even the lichen had burned.
But the amazing thing was that within a few weeks, after a gentle rain, weeds began to pop their heads through the charred crust. Within months, grasses were filling back in. And now, five years later, young trees are dropping their rusty orange leaves and blueberry bushes and young mountain laurel are covering the hills again. Soon, the laurels will be big enough that my springtime hikes through that valley will be bathed in pink and white.