It's like running into a sunset, really.
Often when I find myself driving, the road will curve and all of a sudden there's a bank of trees in front of me, shooting up like fireworks. Or maybe I'll pass by Teal Lake and the opposite bank will reflect back at me in the water, turning the entire horizon into a blanket of tie-dye.
In the past few weeks, the hills around Ishpeming and Negaunee have gone from their summer green to a blaze of oranges, reds and yellows, marking one of my favorite times of year - fall.
If you spend enough time around me, you'll realize that I tend to say any time of year is my favorite. When snow falls, winter will be my favorite season. When the snow melts, spring is my favorite.
But, no lie, fall really is my favorite.
I love having a bit of chill in the air. I love being able to wear jackets and jeans. I love being able to cook and eat foods like chili or roasted vegetables, where I welcome the chance to warm up my apartment by having the oven or stove on all day. And don't even get me started on the string of holidays from Halloween to New Years.
But that all starts with the changing of the leaves from green to the fall colors. It's something about being surrounded by warm reds and yellows that makes me smile and mutter "wow" to myself every few minutes.
The old Jackson Park in Negaunee on the back road to Ishpeming is full of blazing orange and red trees right now. The whole park looks like a sunset or a campfire. So does the hill that Bell Hospital sits on.
When I was a kid, fall was occupied by hurling myself into piles of fallen leaves. We had a pretty big yard, so that involved some pretty big leaf piles, raked up courtesy of my mom.
Now that I'm older, and don't have a yard to rake, my appreciation for fall leaves has turned to crunching through the leaves that fall on sidewalks or on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail. My runs this week took me through tunnels of leaves, from the ones still on the trees above me to the carpet of fallen leaves under my feet.
On sunny days, it's about all I can do to stop myself from spending all day out with a camera taking endless shots of the fall colors.
No matter how long you've lived in the Upper Peninsula, the thought of facing multiple months of cold and snow can be hard to take. The short fall months are an important transition, I think. It gives us time to break out of our love of summer, reminding us that there's more to the U.P. than sitting on a beach soaking up Vitamin D.
Fall is my chance to get excited about cold-weather activities. But most of all it's a chance to appreciate how beautiful the U.P. is, no matter what the season.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.