A Chilly Fall Walk

I go on a walk with GP and my parents up behind Silver Cove. We start on an overgrown trail that goes over a small ridge, then dips down into a creek bed. Here, the water flows in a narrow path down towards Little White Oak Creek, all of which will eventually flow in to the South Toe River. The trail widens and we follow it alongside the creek behind a handful of houses for the boarding school. We are not within sight of any known points, yet we are still within earshot of the school. By the sound of a dog’s bark I can tell we are near Woodside, then further on past Falcon House, and so on.

We wind down to an old forest road and cross onto National Wildlife Game Lands. It doesn’t take long before Dad spots a deer feeder hung high in the trees through a pulley system. Apples and corn dapple the ground. As far as we can tell, the rig is checked every few days and bait has to be shaken by hand (or with a long branch). It falls on the ground and a hunter can perch in a tree and wait for the deer to come. It occurs to me that we might have been wiser to wear bright orange hats rather than our fall colored orange and green fleece coats. The air temperature is in the thirties and not a gust of wind blows. Perfect for a huddled hunter to get a good aim at a buck without his scent giving him away. We move on quickly, continuing the slow downgrade towards the Marshall property.

As we make our way in a wide loop to the entrance of Wildflower Cove and the tail end of Hannah Branch Road, my mind calms and I start to notice the nuances of fall all around me. The view of the Black Mountains from Ballew Fields was breathtaking. Today the mountains were ablaze with color, rolling swaths of orange and red, burnt brown and shades of lime. Back on the road, acorns, hickory nuts, and buckeye crunched beneath our feet. I thought of all the squirrels and chipmunks burrowing down for winter, storing their food and thickening their fur. On some parts of the trail, the nuts were so abundant we could hear them popping beneath our feet. For a short while, the wind blew down the gentle slopes of the valley and I watched the leaves wave, each one like a hand offering itself as a gift. If I could, I would accept them all, spread them around the globe and back again, symbols of the brightness of change.

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