Months ago, C and I went back to Backbone. It was a morose, last-weekend-together-for-5-months kind of trip. We were supposed to stop by a bakery for fresh gingerbread cookies, and that hadn’t happened, so I was already thrown and cookie-less. We were quiet, weather was bleak and the long lake looked more wild and suspect in autumn than she appeared last spring, bathed in bluebells.
This year’s autumn dazzled. It was all trees on fire and last night of your life sunsets over Iowa prairie. But early on, there were days like this one that felt more ominous — scary-exciting like the smell of elementary school hallways during the first few weeks of class. We explored gloomy fields, little caves and radioactive orange fungi and lingered over leaves fallen across the trail in the prime of their seasonal plumage. We were quiet.
I’d forgotten this isn’t the time of year for raucous walks. You match your voice and footfalls to the sound of the environment, steadily decreasing in decibel to the silence of snow flurries, words like the occasional crackle of river ice moved by unseen currents. I’m ready to get back to that and melt into 2014, absorbing the cold (really, really cold), being quiet.