I still remember the joy of discovery as the snow melted in the spring in Montana and revealed toys that had been left outside, caught in that first snow, covered for the winter and forgotten. Even a rusty sand bucket was welcomed back like an old friend, better than any shiny one off the store shelf.
I have that same childlike feeling as the leaves fall off the trees every fall, revealing secrets that have been hiding from me all summer long. I can see farther back into the woods through the bare branches. Everything looks different, fresh. This fall a good-sized bird nest in a small alder that was within a stone’s throw of the kitchen window was suddenly exposed. I never noticed it through the summer even though I walked within a few feet of it every day. Finding that nest was enough to prompt me to walk around the yard and check out the other trees.
But fall’s surprises can be more alarming. In early October I walked into the kitchen one sunny mid-morning and stopped. Something was wrong, something out of order. I glanced around–everything seemed normal, the frig was running fine. What was it? And then I noticed it–a reddish glow–like the reflection from a big fire. This was even more alarming until I realized it was the reflection of the bright red leaves of the blueberry bushes–at the height of their color–reflecting through the windows in the bright sunlight. I think this happens at least once every fall to me, and I always forget about it until it catches me again the next year.
Every season yields its surprises. Of course, it’s that noticing, that discovery, the surprises, that provide the joy that helps to make life meaningful and fun. It’s the reason we continue to support and fight for efforts to protect wild places, and to treasure and fund our regional, state, and national parks. We do it for our children and for the generations who will live after us, but we also do it for ourselves!