When the world changes color

Published 10:11 am Thursday, October 22, 2015

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

This is one of my favorite lines from one of my all time favorite books, “Anne of Green Gables.”

I’ve always felt I related to Anne Shirley, the literary character that shaped my childhood and the bulk of my young adult life, and L.M. Montgomery’s love for fall portrayed through my favorite character is certainly something I can relate to.

And while Montgomery is describing autumn in Canada, we’re lucky to live in a region that I’m sure is every bit as beautiful this time of year.

There is no disputing that southwest Michigan is a tourist region. Our neighbors to the west draw thousands of people in the summer with all the beaches, but I’d argue that the region is most beautiful in the fall, and on good years like this one, it’s at its finest in October.

Almost overnight, our world changes color, and if we’re lucky, we get a few short weeks to enjoy the reds and oranges and yellows of fall. Our primarily rural cities filled with trees become breathtakingly beautiful. For a few short weeks, we get to experience an entirely new environment.

The air smells muskier — crisp around the edges. All things pumpkin, cinnamon and apple fill our kitchens and our storefronts, and despite the cooler temperatures, our world feels a little warmer.

Looking back at various phases in my life, so many of my favorite memories happened in autumn.

As a very young child, I remember my mom dressing my sister and me up for Halloween. We were usually some sort of dynamic duo like Dorothy and Glenda from “The Wizard of Oz,” but she never let us dress the same on that holiday.

We always painted pumpkins instead of carving them, and we’d stuff scarecrows and deck out the yard in all things Halloween.

In high school, I had a friend whose parents hosted an annual Halloween party. In true southwest Michigan fashion, his dad would hook a trailer to the back of a pickup truck, fill it with as much hay as would fit, and travel down back roads while the wagon was filled with teenagers wielding hot apple cider and cinnamon donuts.

And in college, my favorite thing to do was find a bench on campus and curl up with whatever novel my literature professors had assigned that week. With a hot cup of coffee, the pleasant temperatures and the beautiful scenery surrounding me, I could sit for hours in my own little world and read a book from cover to cover.

Now that I’ve moved back to southwest Michigan, I love to wander through all the parks — especially in Cass County — with my camera in tow. It’s so cathartic to be surrounded by the quiet of fall, digitally capturing the beauty to preserve it forever.

Throughout winter, as I grumble like the rest of us and threaten to move south, I look back at the pictures and realize I couldn’t live in an area without Octobers like these if I tried.

To quote Anne again, “Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”


Ambrosia Neldon is the managing editor at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7713, or by email at ambrosia.neldon@leaderpub.com.