This quiet delight:
The first day of fall in central Minnesota,
Sweatshirt weather calling us outside for a stroll.
Moss and dropped needles soften the path
Between straight tall pines and white birch trunks.
Aspen leaves rustle as trunks and branches sway in sudden breezes,
The music of nature’s breath, so similar to melody of a mountain stream.
Low bushes with dried-out stems still sport lilac-colored flowers;
Salmon-colored fungi stands lonely sentry duty,
While mushroom umbrellas with serrated tops group together under ferns.
Parasitic vines usher in fall with leaves of orange and yellow;
Dying bushes languish under trees, branches stooped under the weight of white berries.
Thistles flowers have mostly transformed into flighty down, but now and then, purple still lingers.
Feet refuse to hurry, but hesitate every few steps, as if reluctant to leave this forest.
A finch investigator perches at eye-level a few feet away before swooping off
to report territory invaders, and a common yellow-throat picks up the call.
The tapping of downy woodpeckers sounds all around us, until we pause to pinpoint their location.
Too shy to reveal their where-abouts, they only resume their bug-quests when we resume rambling.
White pillow clouds accent a blue sky that stretches endlessly higher and higher,
Seen only by raising our eyes out of the muted, soft light and gazing past the treetops.
We find peace in the green coolness of the forest,
its sounds and smells sooth our souls and banish hurry from our minds.
Yet, when a ray of sunshine blazes a pathway through branches, needles, and leaves,
We turn our faces toward the source, delighting in its feather warmth on our cheeks.
By Kathleen Evenhouse, September 21, 2022, Veterans Hiking Trail near Pequot Lakes, MN