Season of autumn in the high country is a treat for the senses
Autumn — the word itself provokes many different thoughts, feelings and interpretations. It is a time of change, a time of beauty and a time of memories. Think about how you might describe autumn; what would you say? What is a defining characteristic to you? Perhaps it is the homemade warm soups, the bone-chilling breezes or the vivid palate of colors. The word itself is simple and quietly serene, but there is much more to be found and discovered during this magical time.
My particular fondness for autumn began years ago with my mother. We were touring around Massachusetts looking for the most gorgeous views of the painted forests we could find. I was only a passenger along for the ride, and did not fully comprehend or appreciate what I was discovering that day. But each autumn, I’m reminded of those drives searching for natural artistry with my mother.
Time of Inspiration
For me, autumn is a time of inspiration. Nature provides a fascinating locale for reflection and meditation every day of the year, but autumn is special. It is a time that is consumed by all our senses. And this is what makes it so special for me. When you experience not just the colors of the landscape, but also the chilling winds, the sounds of wildlife and the scent of air heavy with precipitation, it forms an alluring sense of wonder. It makes you contemplate what other things nature might be telling you.
If those beautifully vibrant leaves could speak, then what might they say? Would there be sage advice about our natural world? Maybe they would sing us a lullaby before finally departing their seasonal homes on the branch, swiftly and gracefully falling to the earth; to soil, rock, and sand; to put all that they are back into the cycle of life, proving they can still help long after their colors are faded, purposes met, and goals vanquished.
Get Out There
A simple Google search reveals vast quantities of graphic images showing why we love this season so immensely. But those photos are not enough. We need to get out into the wilderness — into nature — and explore the reasons autumn is so cherished and revered. Go out and witness the cold breeze musically playing those vibrant colors. Listen to the reds and the yellows and the browns. Breathe in the chilling air and realize that all this beauty — all this changing and all this decay, is just one step toward rejuvenation — toward youth — toward a future where we can revisit, reimagine and renew our senses.
Venture out on a drive south to Leadville on U.S. Highway 24, tackle a hike through the Upper Piney Trail or East Lake Creek Trail or register for one of the many fall colors hikes from Walking Mountains Science Center. The inspiration that can be found during this season is endless. Explore all that nature has in store during this procession of spirit and color. Take photos, record audio and breathe deeply; capture your inspirations. But remember, there is nothing quite like physically connecting with the things we love about autumn. At the moment you see those vibrant colors, feel those chilling breezes or hear those chanting calls of wildlife, you are — in a very real sense — absorbing the wonder and excitement of autumn.
Douglas Riggins is a naturalist at Walking Mountains Science Center. He is passionate about sharing the natural wonders of our world with others.