I find that autumn makes me restless. I have to go out and explore Mother Nature to fully enjoy it all. It might start with a walk at one of my favorite Metroparks, Blacklick Woods. If I go early enough in the season, I know I’ll see monarchs nectaring there before heading south to Mexico.
Then I may need to see the autumn displays at Franklin Park Conservatory.
And for sure there will be several trips to Chestnut Ridge. If the colors aren’t at peak on the sweetgum trees there, I’ll have to come back again later. Because I just have to see their crazy kaleidoscope display. As you can see, they weren’t quite ready this day. I’ll return again soon.
If I’m really lucky, I’ll be able to include a journey “home” in the fall. Home to me is a small beachy town on the shores of Lake Michigan called St. Joseph. This year, I was that lucky, and I managed to hit peak color season in southwest Michigan.
In my memories of autumn there back in the day, every fall was drenched in red, yellow, orange, purple, and green. You know how your remembrances can play tricks on you, and exaggerate the reality? Well, my memories didn’t lie to me this time. It was every bit as magical as I remembered.
One of my stops in the area always has to be Fernwood Botanical Gardens. I've never met a botanical garden that I didn't love, but this one is particularly special to me because my grandmother loved it so, along with my mother. Now it's special because I always share it with a dear friend. We find "our" pair of Adirondack chairs, and sit there sharing our lives with each other. Silly me, why didn't I photograph the chairs themselves? Next time.
But it’s always the sumac and sassafras I remember most. These two plants provide a large part of the color show that I love so much. It’s how I know that I’m home. I’m sure they grow in Ohio too, but not so profusely. Once I see the sumac growing enmasse along the highway, I sigh deeply. Have you ever pulled a sassafras leaf from the tree, and chewed the stem? It tastes a bit like root beer. My mother taught me this as a little girl.
If you’re really lucky, you can go home again.