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Adirondack Autumn

Trees begin to change their colors in Thurman in 2016,

So, it’s that time of year, before the frost but definitely in the fall. The leaves have just begun to change. The fragrances in the woods have shattered from the warm, starchy smells of the summer into hundreds of unidentifiable perfumes.

These perfumes are so subtle and fleeting and numerous that, if paid too much attention to, they would overload your ability to perceive them.

The colors of the woods are doing the same thing — they are shattering. What was a warm green and brown has turned into a puzzle board of colors.

You can look at one spot and see so many hues, from popsicle orange to dark purple and everything in between.

All this while walking the dog on a dirt road through the woods.

Of course, if I were in town or on a highway, all of the human artifacts and activities would obscure my perceptions.

We need to get away from our own and our creations to see the world sometimes, to realize it is not all road and screen and scents from boxes and bottles.

This is the time of year for walking, for being apart. Our summer world is beginning to give way, slowly, to our winter world.

The beauty of that destruction is awesome and overwhelming.

The hunter was a walker. He wore his plaid jacket, he walked out into the woods eight miles from the main road. He camped. He was quiet.

It was not only game he was pursuing. Each year he was drawn to see the complete destruction of the green lush world he had been working in since the first asparagus spear emerged, the first skunk cabbage released its first of scents.

Soon, the woods will be dormant. But now they are breathing in and exhaling messages to each other in scents and signals that are beyond us.

Every few yards, my dog and I stop and breath in something new.

What is that?

What is that?

Over 60 years on this planet, and I am not sure.

It is the time for walking mile after mile, quietly, stopping now and then, listening, looking, breathing in the fragrances that are so diverse.

In a way, these leaves changing, acorns falling, snow birds flitting away (far away!), in a way it is so sad and a little frightening.

The best idea, then, is to walk, to take it in, to leave our civilization if only for a few hours, to warm ourselves instead of being warmed.

I suppose there will be enough time to sit by the fire later. For now, we walk.

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Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley. You can leave him a message at


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