That said, autumn is also my favorite time of the year. I know that part of my love for this season stems from the years of living in a very cold climate...that change from hot and humid weather whether it was day or night...to warm days and cool nights.
Growing up in Northern Wisconsin with a lake at my backdoor...and with having a boat...plus having acres if not miles of farmland and woods to explore, it was a magical time for a young boy...then a teenager...and finally a young adult. To this day I can feel the sun and smell the warmth of the fall air which is a blend of dry leaves and grasses along with a hint of chill in the wind.
Frequently, in the fall I would take the family dog with me...well she went with me everywhere I went. Period. She and I would hop into the boat and take it out on the lake. Her name was Lassie and I loved her dearly...the love was returned unconditionally...and all those fall afternoons the two of us in the boat would explore the bays, the beaches, the inlets, the outlets, or simply rest the oars and let the boat drift aimlessly on the sparkling water while I napped in the bottom of the boat with Lassie being the "watchdog". Life was nothing short of perfect on those afternoons.
Another fall trek of ours was to hike to what we called "The Lone Pine." The tree was a huge winte pine that was by itself on a section of our property close to the Wonderspot Resort. To get to the tree, we had to take a route along what was the remnant of an old lumber road that meandered through the woods. During that time of the year there would be leaves on the ground, leaves dancing though the air with any breeze, and the simple sound of my footsteps on the dry leaves. Lassie would be in front of me and behind me and/or chasing off through the brush after any critter that dare move.
The old lumber/logging road eventually let to the highway. To get to the "Lone Pine" I usually turned off on a tiny foot trail that led through a small grove of birch trees on to a sand-spit before descending to follow a trail that followed the edge of a large slough. Eventually the trial ascended to higher and dryer ground and then dipped again through another swampy area before finally ascending to an almost island like place,,,and there grew the "Lone Pine" in all of its majesty.
I would climb the tree to a space where the branches formed a chair-like embrace...about 15 to 20 feet above the ground. And from that perch I could look out over the lake, look back toward the family home, and enjoy the panorama of the fall woods. The dog would rest and/or nap on a bed of dry needles at the base of the tree while patiently waiting for me to climb down.
From that very comfortable perch I would frequently contemplate my teenage angst...but then would also dream of the future.
Even now, all these years later, I can remember the smell of pine and pitch, I can hear the sound of the wind in the needles of the tree, I can hear the wind rustling the leaves of the surrounding trees, I can hear the lap of the waves against the shore of the lake...and feel the sunlight on my face.
If I shut my eyes and set my mind free...I am there once again with Lassie at the foot of the tree waiting for me so we could walk home...as two good friends do...anticipating our dinners. If we lingered too long, dusk would descend and the warmth of a late autumn day would change to the chill of night...and the lights from Mom's and Dad's house would be a welcomed beacon guiding us home.