Color Changes

Fall is making its entrance, and the warm weather has people predicting that the leaves won’t stay on trees very long.

Recently I basked in the glorious sunshine that cast a special vibrant glow on the trees.

I love the three-toned trees this time of year.

I am surprised to still see butterflies fluttering and hear crickets in the thick grass, but am going to enjoy nature’s concerts as long as it lasts.

In mid-October Cicadas were still singing, and birdies are doing their thing.

The lake continues to provide peace and perspective.

Maybe I can sneak away to a nature preserve in November to forest bathe a bit.

But the local parks have plenty of beauty to offer.

This week the colder weather will call for coats and socks instead of t-shirts and sandals.

It has been lovely to have summer linger for a bit though.

I hope the color change holds for a little bit.

Here’s to joyous days playing in the leaves.

Seasons are a wonderful reminder of the cycles in life.

Enjoy your pre-Halloween week!

Fall Colors

It is Fall!

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I love the beautiful jewel tones of the season.

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Summer is still holding on here and there.

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We had a few chilly days that got the radiators going.

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But now we have warmer weather to where strolls in the park are enjoyable again.

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Soon there will be piles to toss around.

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The earthy scents are lovely too.

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The beachfront has lots of color.

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Golden hues abound.

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Fuzzy flowers add their brightness.

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Radiance is everywhere.

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Seasons are a beautiful thing (as much as we gripe about the weather at times).

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What’s your favorite season?

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Golden Radiance

Tomorrow is Halloween, but this year I am more in Samhain mode.

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I don’t know of any costume parties to go to, though the coming weekend is packed.

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So here are some photos of the glorious Fall colors we’re having this month.

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I love the brilliance of the golds and reds.

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The ‘stoplight’ trees are my favorite.

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The skies are a glorious blue and the sun is out with its brilliance.

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We still have some bunnies hopping about.

BunnyT

he trees are so brilliant.

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Colors abound.

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Watching the progression is fascinating.

KedzieTree

I can’t help but think of Monty Python when the leaves flutter about me.

Fallingleaves

Here’s hoping the Indian Summer weather holds for a few more weeks into November.

FallShadowGold

Saturday I’ll be in Lemont for a craft show from 9-12:30 with these three pieces.

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I’ll pop by Aurora Rose Boutique afterwards where they have lots of fun Halloween gifts!

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Want more trees?

ClarkSquareBare

I can’t get enough either.

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Happy change of season to you!

EmilyOaksTree

May you harvest much goodness.

Moving at half speed

To keep the body in good health is a duty…
otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
~ Buddha

colors

The one thing solopreneurship doesn’t really allow for is being sick, at least not for an artist on the cusp of holiday season.

squirrel

Since last weekend I’ve woken up sickly (sore throat, feeling weak), and even though I gave myself the full weekend of bed rest and I sleep in a little longer in the mornings, every time I felt better I would be reminded that I am not at full strength.

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So I am curbing my enthusiasm and allowing for long breaks between activities, and I hope that the gentleness will prevent a full-on illness. Here’s hoping that vitamins and healthy foods will drive out the bugs.

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Celebrate your health!

selflove

Rest when you’re weary.
Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit.
Then get back to work.
~ Ralph Marston

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A Crisp Day at Lowden State Park

My last day in Oregon (Illinois) was a chilly one. I was tempted to snooze in the cabin but had to check out by 11:30, so I enjoyed a pancake breakfast and then had the hostess nudge me toward Lowden State Park rather than Castle Rock for my next hike.

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I said goodbye to the tipi at White Pines Inn and enjoyed driving past the other tipis on my way to the Rock River.

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“Prancing in the Pines” by Jan Harvey of Polo, IL

Jan Harvey found the deer design in a gourd book and used the faux method to make the background look like deer skin with the hide rolled over the top.  The trail of Tipis was created in conjunction with the Oregon Trail Days Festival as a year round attraction showcasing 30 authentic tipis.

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The Sioux tipis were designed and hand painted by local artists and residents to act as a reminder of the rich Native American heritage in the area. During the annual July Oregon Trail Days Festival the tipis move to Lowden State Park to create an encampment that families can spend the night in.

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While I did (inadvertently) come upon the Oregon Trail on my way in, it doesn’t seem that the historic Oregon Trail reached into Illinois.

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I had been to Lowden years before, but had only visited the statue and not really walked the trails.

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Fallglory

The Black Hawk Statue, officially known as The Eternal Indian, was created by Lorado Taft and John G. Prasuhn, beginning in 1908.

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Inspired by the Souk Leader Black Hawk, though not his likeness, the monolith was dedicated in 1911.

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It is 48 feet tall. The hollow statue is reinforced with iron rods and 8 inches to 3 feet thick.

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The outer surface composed of cement, pink granite chips and screenings, is three inches thick.

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Black Hawk was a Sauk leader who attempted to reclaim his land with 1,000 members of his and the Fox tribes. His efforts led to the Black Hawk War, triggered by the Battle of Stillman’s Run.

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I’ve visited the Sam Houston Statue in Huntsville at least twice, but the technology was far more advanced to create that 67-foot statue than Taft had at his disposal in 1911.

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The first pour of the statue froze and had to be broken. The second pour on December 20 was done with insulation and steam piping and continued for 10 days around the clock.

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Lorado Taft has created a few familiar sculptures.

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I learned that this site used to be an artist retreat, and that a cabin is available to re-enact that bohemian gathering (though not as posh as the White Pines cabins).

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The Eagle’s Nest Colony was started by sculptor Lorado Taft and his friends when they were invited to camp on the Lowden State Park site by then-owner Wallace Heckman in 1898. The colony was populated by Chicago artists who had ties to the Chicago Art Institute or the University of Chicago art department.

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The original group included artists Ralph Clarkson, Charles Francis Browne and Oliver Dennet Grove; writers Hamlin Garland, Henry B. Fuller and Horace Spencer Fiske; architects Irving D. and Allen B. Pond; sculptors Lorado Taft and Nellie Walker; organist Clarence Dickinson; and University of Chicago Secretary James Spencer Dickerson.

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The colony ended in 1942. Margaret Fuller penned “Ganymede to his Eagle” here in 1843.

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Lowden Memorial State Park was designated in 1945, including the Eagle’s Nest property, to honor former Illinois Governor Frank Lowden. It has a few small trails, though I found the map’s drawings a bit off on my perusal.

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I walked the steep stairs down to the river and enjoyed a very short Black Hawk trail along the water.

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I was tempted to explore the reportedly more interesting Pines Trail, but hesitated to cross the busy road, so I will save that for another trip.

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The map indicated a turn but the path dead-ended instead.

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After getting winded and making use of two benches up the stairs (reportedly between 110 and 202 steps–I didn’t count), I walked the very short trail on the statue’s level.

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The less official-seeming trail led into the Lorado Taft Field Campus, at which point I turned around.

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With the air getting colder I decided to get back into my warm car and made my way down country roads toward home.

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It was lovely to be away, learn a bit more about Illinois history and reset my brain.

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Castle Rock is still on my list to (re)visit, but there are numerous other parks and forests as well, so we will see what next year brings travel-wise.

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The Sleepy Hollow Trail–pondering bravery

The most challenging trail at White Pines Inn is the Sleepy Hollow trail.

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It is aptly named as many trees look like creepy creatures even in the daytime.

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All trails close at sunset, and this is definitely not an area to violate that notion.

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Roots and rocks along the path make for tricky terrain.

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The stairs at the beginning of the trail make you think twice about whether to take on the challenge.

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Armed with my walking stick I felt confident at wandering here alone.

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I have two walking sticks but being the shutterbug I am one is more manageable.

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The trail had me thinking a lot about spookiness and monsters and nightmares both on the imaginary and figurative level.

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My new benchmark of challenging trails is the Samaria Gorge which I hiked with a group in May 2011.

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It was an amazing and grueling experience I’ll have to share with you soon.

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That 17-day Greek island-hopping trip without cell phone connection (due to a phone company glitch) had me overcome many fears associated with traveling alone, being in unfamiliar places without GPS and having a language barrier to boot.

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So compared to that I knew the creepy atmosphere and more tricky portions of the path were easy.

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The overlook’s erosion certainly is something to note and be cautious about.

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All White Pines trails form a loop, so as long as you stay on the path you also know where you come out, which adds more comfort.

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Incidentally, my phone’s GPS also gave out near White Pines, having me resort to the old-fashioned way of navigating how to get to my destination.

oldfashionednavigating

The trails are clearly marked and stairs ensure no one slips down steep hills.

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It comes with a 5’4″ height requirement though. Taller people might lose their head if they don’t duck. 😉

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Before 2011 the potential of slipping into the creek would have deterred me from crossing the waters, but my walking stick gave me the needed support to keep going rather than turning around.

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This trail is a boon for bird-watchers, as many enjoyed the higher elevations to gather and hold chatty meetings.

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It also is the most interesting of the trails, as you get to experience different elevations, a nice overlook, and the crossing of creeks which makes for different scenery.

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This being a short trail, just over 1 mile, I wasn’t concerned with being lost.

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gnarlyness

I drew the line at crossing this area by myself though, which was a branch off the trail and likely has a more accessible entry on the other side).

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On a weekday I had the trail to myself, which meant I didn’t have to worry about the intentions of other humans along the way.

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From the cabin area interactions this park attracts the type of people who just want to be in nature and relax, so in general this park feels safe to a lone traveler. (During holidays parks crowded with visitors tend to have a less peaceful vibe to me).

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Mid-October is a lovely time to take in all the fall colors, observe leaves falling and see the seasonal transition up close.

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leaves

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After a few creek crossings, some climbs and descends, you come back to the beginning.

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Some lovely vistas reward the exercise.

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Fire safety is prominent as well.

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And multiple locks keep a lone traveler safe in the cabin.

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You don’t have to stay at the White Pines Inn to hike the park, by the way.

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There are picnic areas and parking for day-trip visitors as well.

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I look forward to returning here soon.

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If you’re a lone lady pondering a solo trip but not sure if you have the moxie, the lovely Wanderlust and Lipstick web site will help you along (their book was my guidepost during my first solo road trip across 6 states).

 

A short cabin getaway

On the heels of 2 openings and an intense week prior, I decided to go off on a little cabin retreat.

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My home is a disaster area from the flurry of creating and continuous appointments, and I had no energy to clean, but I also couldn’t think or process amid all the clutter.

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So the best thing to do was to get away and allow my brain to re-set before facing the chaos and getting organized again.

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A few years ago I happened upon the perfect log cabin getaway near Chicago, the White Pines Inn.

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I had stayed at a lovely B&B in Oregon (Illinois) to visit the state parks nearby, and I promptly took a brochure from the White Pines Forest Inn on my last day of that 2005 visit.

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This settlement was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, offering an employment program for young men during the Great Depression while also implementing a nature conservation program.

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The cabins are nestled in the woods, offering a lovely peaceful setting.

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They all have (shower) bathrooms with a fridge, heat and A/C, a gas fireplace, cable TV and DVD player and fully furnished bedding (which I upgraded to cozy flannel sheets).

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A far cry from the AOK log cabin retreat I took on another outing where I was basically camping in something more sturdy than a tent.

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The trails are all a mile or less long and loop around the cabin ’settlement’ so even if you inadvertently traverse a different-colored path, you eventually end up at base camp again, perfect for the lone wanderer.

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Some are more difficult than others so I highly recommend sturdy boots and a walking stick to explore the forest.

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Day one was glorious so I snapped oodles of photos to catch the light.

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I gave up on this photo-op.

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The colors were magnificent, and some unexpected.

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There is a restaurant just steps from the cabin circle, where hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, for under $15.

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The chicken pot pie was delicious (as were the meat loaf and the pancakes, which don’t look as great on camera).

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It offers senior discounts so you see many retirees having their meals here.

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I was tempted to crash the fire pit party of another visiting couple, but they forgot the S’Mores ingredients (they also come four times a year–great idea!).

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The scenery and the safe surroundings were a balm to my Autumn-loving soul.

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goddess

The next day I spent the rainy morning getting a hot stone massage in a cabin just outside of the forest.

Massage

After that I was determined to get more walking in to continue loosening my limbs, and the drizzle wasn’t a deterrent with rainboots and a rain coat.

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One section of the park has a tree identification area, which is more illuminating in the spring or summer, but still taught me a lot.

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The Grey Squirrel Trail gets a bit narrow at times (just the width of one’s feet), so I recommend a walking stick with this one.

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Stairs are plentiful along the trails as well.

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Along with well-placed resting areas. There is also a handicapped-accessible trail and some cabins offer handicapped accommodations.

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I came upon some spectacular mushrooms.

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In the afternoon it was clear enough to take the aptly named Sleepy Hollow trail, which warrants a separate post.

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I was showered in gold several times.

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pines

Here is a lovely article on what makes leaves drop.

leafyness

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After my muscles were thoroughly stretched I settled into an adirondack chair for some reading.

LucyReading

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I continued cozied up by the fireplace into the night.

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The next day temperatures were much cooler, and though I was tempted to spend another night, I packed my belongings and moved on to Lowden State Park (which I will report on in an upcoming post).

Trail2

Next time I’ll definitely do a 3-night stay, as getting away from the hustle and bustle (and only having WiFi in the restaurant) did help me get back to being in the moment, rather than continuously thinking of what’s next.

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redleaves

Fall has begun

We’ve had some glorious days, but the season is definitely changing.

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I’m bummed the butterflies were so sparse this year compared to the last 2 summers, but hopefully I will see more than sulphurs and cabbage whites next year.

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The flowers are embracing their last bloom.

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Daylight is leaving us sooner.

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It will be nice to glory in the rainbow of leaves about to grace our neighborhood.

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The multicolored stages of trees are my favorite.

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I’ll have to prepare my home for cozying up inside.

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Do you mark the transition from summer to fall in any way?

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Leafy “Impressionism”

A few leaves have left their impressions in concrete around town.

photograph of leaf imprint on concrete by Maike's Marvels

 

photograph of leaf imprint on concrete by Maike's Marvels

It may be a result of a path that previously looked like this:

photograph of an autumn path by Maike's Marvels

photograph of leaf imprints on concrete by Maike's Marvels

photograph of leaf imprint on concrete by Maike's Marvels

Nature’s art is so fascinating.

photograph of fall trees by Maike's Marvels

Some trees look very fiery these days.

fall colors photograph by Maike's Marvels

And others are bare already.

bare trees and lamp post photograph by Maike's Marvels

Wishing you inspiration and joy along your path today.

PS: Impressionism is properly defined here. I suppose imPRINT is a better term, but I was impressed too. 🙂