Muted hues

October 1st.  There are so many things I love about the Autumn.  And yet, every year it makes me sad: the shortened days, the shedding trees, and the fact that the whole season points to 6 months of bitter cold  ahead.

Growing up, I remember gigantic piles of leaves to jump in and hayrides and chilly football games and visits to the cider mill.  Fall was beautiful and alive.  Autumn in Michigan is like a staged event.  The trees prepare all summer; growing and filling out, they gorge on the summer sunshine and gentle rains so they’re ready for the Grand Event.  Like a debutant at her ball, they, with poise and grace, shamelessly display their beauty for the world to see.  And what a breath-taking site of  neon green and fluorescent yellow and vibrant orange and crimson red it is. Each October, I miss my home-state so much my heart aches.  I miss the feast for the eyes and all the vibrancy and even after 20 years, feel homesick for the rash display of extravagance.

But as I drove Saturday in the wee morning hours to a town about 35 miles away, I noticed once again the calming beauty of the understated Iowa fall…
the gentle heave and sigh of the earth with round bales scattered in the fields…
the muted hues of gold and rust and brown as trees slowly whither…
the touches of bold red that fleck the landscape….
the way the mist hangs over the earth just before the sun finally rises leaving a stunning clear blue sky….  
The view is lovely, peaceful, calming and steady.  You don’t have the highs and lows of hillier terrain nor the mass of heavily forested places nor the flashy color; the view is wide and spacious and more horizontal.  Fall in Iowa is an event as well.  But it’s not about colors, it’s about the harvest.  It’s about reaping what what sown in the spring.  I guess harvest time in Iowa sort of reflects the people who live here: understated, faithful and grounded.  They, like the trees, don’t need to be the center of attention or focus.  They quietly live, breathe, serve and survive giving shade and beauty and sustenance to the world whether the world sees it or not.

I’m so thankful that I experienced stunning Michigan Autumns but equally thankful that I’ve learned to love and embrace the simplicity and subtle loveliness of Iowa’s Harvest-time.

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