Benzie County’s Gorgeous Leaves of Fall

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The anguish of fall is upon us in northern Michigan. The astonishing colors, temporary as they are, are brushed onto this magnificent place I’ve called home for two decades. Yesterday, on one of the last road bike rides of the year, I took this gallery of shots with my iPhone. Every corner on our two-lanes, virtually empty of traffic these days, a billboard of reds and oranges and yellows unfolds, the colors deepening with the sinking sun. fall-benzie-corn-2011-5-300

The “leaves” of fall have multiple meaning for those of us fortunate enough to live here. The spectacle of nature’s color palette applied to leaves that weeks ago were just green is one translation, of course. Bfall-benzie-2011-31ut leaves also apply to the knowledge of the approaching cold rains and dark afternoons of November when your own personal weather forecast also gets a little dank and gloomy.

For me, November is the hardest month. It’s night by late afternoon. I’m not ready to layer sweaters over heavy shirts over tee shirts and pull on heavy socks and pants to stay warm, but I do. My bike goes up on the wall of the garage, unmoving until May. The days draw steadily colder until the first snow flies and the ice appears on the small inland lakes. The six weeks or so between October and December’s earnest snow, when the cross-country skies are waxed and readied, are a time of writing and reading and watching college football.

The leaves, in short, mark the season of passing. And for all the color and joy they bring, I’m no different than most people around here. I know cold short days approach. Windows shut. The season of sun and sweat give way, at least until December, to places where nothing flutters in a fresh wind.

— Keith Schneider

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