Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

Let’s Take a Walk

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The foliage changing colors brings me closer to nature. I want to sit in the woods, listen to the rustling leaves swirl, and smell the musty scent of moss floating from the log behind me.

A two-minute walk to the park next to my house.
A two-minute walk to the park next to my house.

For today’s Freedom Friday, would you take a walk with me? It won’t be long. I just would like to show you my neighborhood. Maybe even make you feel what I feel when I look at nature the way I do.

Living in farm country affords me time away from the big city. Not only do I take frequent walks in and around our neighborhood, but I also slip into the woods every so often to enjoy the silence away from it all.

Path leading to the woods.
Path leading to the woods.
Entrance to the woods.
Entrance to the woods.

Our first stop is the park next to my home. Every year at this time, it bursts with color. The mornings are as if someone had taken several buckets of paint and splashed them on all the trees. Yellows are like pots of gold. Reds are deep and rich. Why not? Maple trees line the perimeter of the park and invite the stranger to visit the inner sanctuary.

The woods begin at the park and continue for a mile in all directions, cutting across a street until it reaches the farms. I’ve strolled the distance many times, getting lost in its winding trails. The crunch under my feet stops me from going further. I look around and see trees surrounding me. They are tall and strong. The squirrels are gathering food for the winter. The birds have long left the area, searching for warmer climes, escaping the coming winter.

I turn east and head for the stream, which resides at the other side of the street. Other than the gentle breeze caressing my skin, the rushing water breaks the peace and makes my mind wander.

The woods.
The woods.
Looking high above between the trees.
Looking high above between the trees.

I wonder what it was like a hundred years ago, during the times when the colonialists settled the area. Was there ever a person who sat in the exact spot I am sitting, thinking about the coming winter, dreaming about a hot drink by the open fire? Had anyone lived there who came fishing here in the summer, craving for a good catch to bring home to the family for the evening’s meal? I’m sure there was. How could there not?

Then I see more leaves float from the branches, creating a bed for the chipmunks scampering about below. It’s nice here. The tree limbs overhead provide a comfortable roof. Thankfully, it doesn’t feel like it will rain. I can tell when that happens. The animals disappear, the air tightens and a certain smell hovers over everything until the first drop hits the ground.

It’s getting late. I head back wondering what I will have to eat. The other night my wife made fresh baked bread. Oh, how I would love that again. The sweet aroma is hard to resist. After a long walk, it also makes my house feel like home.

Home. What a beautiful word. Calming. Peaceful. Happy. Home.

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What is your neighborhood like? Do you live where you can stroll in the open country?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Photo Opportunities

Autumn Photography

Every autumn I go on safari. Not really. I treat it as a safari, though. I pack my camera in my satchel, slip on a warm jacket, and head for the woods. What am I hunting, you may ask? Trees, leaves, nature—anything really to depict this glorious season we call fall. And that’s my Freedom Friday introduction to fall photo gathering.

A path to the foot of the woods
A path to the foot of the woods

The adventure typically begins at the foot of the woods a couple of minutes from my home. You see, I live in farm country, near where all the folks from Toronto get their corn, strawberries, and other assorted goods. How close do I live to the woods? I’ve seen foxes chase rabbits from the brush across the street into the neighbor’s backyard at 5:30 in the morning. This happened ten feet from my walk. I’ve seen multiple raccoons frenzying on garbage cans as if bitten by zombies. And I’ve smelled. Yes, smelled—skunks near where I trod. I’ve seen them, too. Tail sticking up. Those are the animals I fear most spilling from the woods. Oh, did I mention the coyotes? We have them, and they’re the dreadful parasites of our town’s existence.

As I was saying, the adventure begins at the foot of the woods. During this time of year when the forests give up their leaves, I’m there capturing it all. I suppose it has to do with the color the season exhibits. Boy, can anyone deny autumn is colorful? I think not. And here I am, in the middle of the woods, the threat of coyotes at every turn, snapping photos of anything that may inspire me to share with others.

Beautiful morning majesty
Beautiful morning majesty
The woods
The woods
Leaves that have yet to change color
Leaves that have yet to change color

The time I get the absolute best photos is either early in the morning, as the sun makes its appearance in the horizon or in the evening just when the light turns all sorts of golden hues along the edge of the tree line. I’ve taken shots in the middle of the woods just as dusk approached. Reminiscent of Dorothy’s travels through The Wizard of Oz’s Dark Forest, the day fades, the wind howls, and it does get creepy. But it doesn’t stop teenagers hitting the woods at night to have their secret rendezvous. On occasion, I’ve come across the remnant of empty bottles near a felled tree, a spot I suppose popular with the young crowd.

The log where teens hang out
The log where teens hang out
I think I know where I'm going
I think I know where I’m going
Enjoying the crunching leaves
Enjoying the crunching leaves
Inside the woods
Inside the woods

The woods have paths I can walk yet there are times the leaves cover the paths making it difficult to find my way back. I’ve gotten lost several times only to find my way back after having remembered what the trees looked like from mental notes of my journey. Believe me when I say it’s not fun not knowing where you are in the grand scheme of things.

I have to say this: whenever I’m out there with my camera taking those eye-popping photos of the foliage, sometimes my breath catches. It’s as if I’m seeing things for the very first time, enjoying every moment. The colors are vivid and beautiful, the air crisp, and the area is so much at peace without human interference. I’m glad I have the woods as my fortress of solitude. Everyone needs a place of refuge. The woods are mine.

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Do you take photos of the foliage every year? Do you have a fortress of solitude?