" Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free." --Shaker hymn
Someone once asked me when I had felt the most alive. I pondered for some time and let the memories walk slowly across my consciousness. A vision of a cold, crisp, sunny , fall day kept coming back to me, the kind of day that invites you to be outdoors, and when you get there, treats you to a blast of air-conditioned air. Everything seemed to be changing as if someone had sent a notice saying, "fall is leaving, winter is coming..beware!" I had gone to Manito Park with my sister Jessi. We wanted to take a last stroll down to the duck pond and be out again away from the stale, indoor air. We hoped to re-live a moment from our youth and experience the simple joy of being alive.
In preparation for our outdoor expedition, we snuggled into fleece jackets and dug old ski hats out of the back of the drawer. Our fingers were stuffed into thermal mittens, and we found mufflers to wrap around our exposed throats. Dressed in layers of fleece and wool, we took off on our adventure.
As we made our way down the road, a hardy group of outdoor folk came into view. These people didn't use cold weather as an excuse for giving up their exercise programs. They glanced our way and nodded. Their eyes signaled a sense of familiarity; we were all made out of the same hardy stock.
Finally, we arrived at the duck pond. The once clear water, surrounded by lush water plants, had been replaced by a murky brown substance that rivaled a Halloween witch's brew. The ducks which had previously acted and performed for summer visitors, now looked vaguely annoyed at the water temperature. They huddled together, trying to keep warm, and stood first on one leg and then on another.
While all of this had a hint of humor about it, what struck me most about the day was the array of radiant colors: oranges, yellows, browns, greens, and reds mixed together like the glass pieces at the end of a kaleidoscope. The trees, once arrogantly laden with leaves, now looked vulnerale with part of their wardrobe gone. Nature's discarded costume covered everything-the grass, the pond, and the...