by Bella Rum

I walked this morning. I started out before the sun was up; as the moments ticked by, the morning slowly revealed itself. This is the most beautiful place to walk. No matter which direction I go, I always end up at the water.

Most of the neighborhood is about fifty-five or sixty years old, sprinkled with some houses over a hundred years old, and the lots are spacious and wooded with mature trees. It’s a park like setting and is truly beautiful anytime of year, but most especially in the fall.

There was finally a nip in the air this morning. Smoke exited chimneys, curling over and around itself, a telltale sign of the chill in the air. Pumpkins and Indian corn and straw men abounded, but it was the ancient oaks and maples, the berry laden dogwoods, and the scent of decaying leaves that reminded me that nature will soon take back what belongs to her. Then she will slumber through the winter, refusing to offer up her gifts again till spring.

Fall is always a bittersweet time of year, and that’s why I love it. It seems richer and deeper and more textured in its beauty than the other three seasons. Its layers of beauty often require maturity to fully appreciate.

I donned a turtleneck and a heavy, hooded sweatshirt before starting out; I even wore gloves. It was exhilarating to walk with brisk intent, breathing in the freshness of an autumn morning. I chose to walk through the older part of the neighborhood, taking side streets, passing white picket fences lined with chrysanthemums. There were small kitchen gardens that had seen better days, and will soon sleep under snow drifts till they’re owners plant them again in the spring.

I ended up in a cul-de-sac. A private gravel/dirt road led down to the water. I followed it, gingerly taking one step at a time so as not to slip and fall. I found myself at the water’s edge; a pier and a landing expanded out over the water, and a boat house sheltered a boat. This place is very familiar to me. It’s owned by one of The Brother’s best friends.

His house sits atop the hill, overlooking the water where a mysterious, diaphanous fog barely clung to the slick surface of the water, hovering and weaving in and out of the marsh grass. It was eerily beautiful. I half expected to see the mournful spirit of a young woman gliding across the water, searching for her handsome lover, a young captain lost at sea.

Taking a deep breath, I turned and began the trip back home, passing great oaks that were literally raining acorns. I saw one of those ubiquitous yellow school buses, loaded with kids who will be going door to door, bag in hand, begging for candy tomorrow night. Perhaps predictably, Halloween is my favorite holiday.

What a way to start the day!