Tag Archives: Colors

Change

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I never figure coin, when adjusting my checkbook. If I deposit $438.87, I only add in $438.00. If I write a check for $12.02, I subtract $13.00. Most errors occur in adding and subtracting the coin, and I’ve eliminated it. I’ve also given myself a little cushion. If I forget to subtract the $2.50 service charge each month, I am covered. If I forget to enter a check or debit from my account, I am usually okay. With nothing more than the coin, I accumulate a couple hundred dollars each year.

It’s a nice little bonus. Sometimes it covers a little trip away; sometimes it gets me out of a bind caused by an illness or an unforeseen auto repair bill. A few years ago, with no other pressing needs, I used it to buy a camera. It’s nothing fancy – just a little “point and shoot” – but I enjoy it immensely. Because I got it with “left-over coin,” it seems like a gift.

I take more photos in October than in any other month of the year.

Change is what I am documenting.

Leaves turn from ordinary and expected greens to a wealth of gold-red-orange-purple colors that continue to delight, amaze and surprise me, though I’ve been observing this process for more than sixty years. Yesterday, the temperature dropped more than ten degrees, mid-day. We had episodes of rain here on Beaver Island, then sleet, then snow…and beautiful blue skies and bright sun in-between!

Change is the way we make note of our lives, as we live. It’s not always as pleasurable as watching autumn colors.

It includes “where did this summer go?” and “where did these wrinkles come from?” and “how did it happen that my precious babies are now grown, with problems and disappointments of their own?” It includes loss. And death.

I was, in fact, going to title this piece “Change and Disappointment.”

Beaver Island is losing its Beech trees. Every one. A disease that infected them years ago is taking them down. The woods are littered with their fallen majesty; every wind storm adds to the toll. As if that weren’t enough, fallen trees take out the electrical power and block roadways.

[even I can see the sheer audacity of that statement: “bad enough that an entire species of hundred-year-old trees is dying…but it’s inconveniencing me, as well!” Shame on me, as I continue, self-centered-ly]

A dear island gentleman passed away recently, an old friend of my father’s. I’ll attend his funeral this morning.

Last week, a man died – the father of an old friend – who I’d known for fifty years. As children, we’d raid his food stores for our midnight snacks. We’d roll our eyes at his commentary as he drove us to the Pix theater for movies. His voice, downstairs talking on the HAM radio, was background to our whispered midnight conversations. He was an integral part of my childhood.

I suffered a huge letdown with another project last week, which has caused a total upheaval in the process. I can’t quite make sense of it yet, or form words to describe the disappointment and fear…but I forge on.

“Forge on through disappointment and loss,” I tell myself. “Make the most of change.”

With thoughts like that, I headed down the Fox Lake Road last week, planning to be on time for work at the hardware store, which was the only job – at that time – that was not causing me grief. A large beech tree had fallen across the road, blocking my path. I couldn’t move it. What could I do? I could back up (on curvy road with dust-covered windows) more than a quarter-mile to a place where I could turn around, then back-track and take the long route to town. I could sit and wait for someone to come that could help me move the tree, or that could cut it out of the way. I could go around it…maybe. I got out and paced the distance from the end of the tree, across to the drive-able shoulder and off to the nearest barrier, which was a cluster of small trees. I might just make it, if I aimed just right, and turned just so, and didn’t flatten my tire rolling over the end of the tree trunk…

Well, I didn’t.

I got wedged in between the tree trunk in the road and the cluster of small trees off the road. After inching forward and back – forever, it seemed – to dislodge the car, I thought a bold push forward was necessary to get past a tiny fingerling tree that was holding me up…

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I tore the mirror right off the passenger side of my good little car. I’ve been so very appreciative of this car and so careful of it, I wanted to just cry.¬†[I hate to admit, I also toyed with the notion of titling this piece “First Blood” to mark the first damage incurred on my watch.]

So much for getting to work on time!

So much for forging on with good spirits!

So much for making the best of change!

And yet…change is not only the things that happen, out of our control, that we fight and rail against and mourn for.

Change is also What is Left.

Change is the coin left over when you break a dollar. The eyes of small children twinkle when they give you one thing…a dollar bill…and they get back many shiny things in return. We adults all know it’s not as much…but oh, to look through a child’s eyes, and see that way! From my own experience, I know how change can accumulate.

For every loss, no matter how great, something is left, something is gained. For all of my self-centered melodrama, I still have an exciting business; I still have a working vehicle. When one sense is lost, the other senses are heightened. When a loved one dies, we look with renewed love and appreciation to those who are still with us; every memory becomes more precious.

The task is to take What is Left…and live with it. Let it grow, let it accumulate, let it be.

Sometimes – as in the autumn colors all around – what’s left is glorious.

Copper

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Last week there were reds and yellows in the woods, standing out against burnished shades of gold and occasional greens.

Several days of strong wind did not diminish the display.

Rather, as some of the leaves dropped, the sun was able to shine through the branches, making the leaves that still clung to them more radiant in the glow.

This week, after several cold nights and more wind accompanied by heavy rain, all the colors have gone brown.

We’re in copper season now!

There was a dusting of icy snow on my car when I left for work yesterday morning, a winter-like chill in the air when I walked the dogs in the evening. The wind is howling now.

I’m collecting the memories of these penny-bright days, warm sun through fiery leaves, to carry me through the next¬† – colder – season.

Golden

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Color is a big topic up here on Beaver Island, in the Fall of the year.

People who want to come here to experience the colors ask, trying to plan their visit for the optimal time.

Folks who have seen the spectacular Autumn show in other years ask, to see how this year is shaping up in comparison.

People who live here talk about it, and report on their own experiences with the colors. If you’ve been up in a plane, or driven around the island, or stopped at Miller’s Marsh or Barney’s Lake, or if you’ve driven down the King’s Highway or Paid Een Ogg’s Road or the West Side Drive…you have something to talk about.

We tell of our experience to anyone who asks, assisting those who are trying to plan a trip or make a comparison.

We tell about it just for the sake of relating our own experience.

“Not as good as in other years…still pretty.”

“I’m not seeing those bright reds this year.”

“From the air, it looks like they’re at their peak!”

“Not so much contrast as we’ve had in the past.”

“Beautiful color around the Fox Lake area!”

“A little past their prime, but the colors are still pretty.”

Our colors reach their peak just a bit later than they do on the mainland, most years.

Weather makes a difference. The amount of moisture in the earth determines the intensity and longevity of the Autumn hues. A few days of wind or rain can strip the trees and change the color of the landscape entirely.

This year, the Autumn colors come to us after two very mild Winters and at least one dry Summer. They come when lake levels are down lower than anyone here can remember. They still show up, though we’ve had weeks of wind and rain.

The Fall colors are here!