Late August, they gave me a map and instructions. I planned my route, studied the names of the rivers, noted the areas to avoid, and headed out. Like all of the journeys before this, I set out with a heavy backpack and a light heart.
I have made this long trek across the months before and knew I would pass some familiar places. My legs, unused to walking after the long summer of watching clouds, complained and then grew silent. My back has never ceased to speak.
I have been schooled in maps, known, and walked them. A map is the story of the road, told true from first to last, but it is not the road. Contour lines, floating on the flat surface like ripples in a lake, are someone else’s story. Your feet must walk the road and find what elevation means.
I follow a path of beauty, canopied by a wide blue sky, days lined with slow smoldering trees that light the way. I know the sun will turn soon and the winds still the fires. I have a long acquaintance with winter.
Faces wait for me at each encampment; they are why I journey. The weary climb, the bruised feet, the hours setting up the camp – all are forgotten when we meet. I offer them my strength, teach them all I know, and trust they will remember some of what they learned for their own travels.
I have journeyed often and I have journeyed long, but I have never been so tired. Mid-October means I am halfway there. In December when the earth sleeps its longest night, I will sit before a fire and rest, tell stories of my trek, and remark on the terrain I covered.
For now, most of my writing must be in the lives and minds of my students.
27 thoughts on “A journey and an explanation”
You’re writing with your photos! Can this be New England? Or where did you go? Beautiful to begin with, and then you put the frame around them and send them to us. Thank you.
All of the photos are from here in northeast Wisconsin and most are pictures of trees and plants on the campus where I teach.
Wonderful journey you’ve taken us on.
Glad you came.
Your students are the fortunate ones. Thank you for the photos to remind me that I must blaze with great fire before I burn out.
I want to be like that, too.
Spectacular and evocative.
Thank you, RAB.
I am so grateful that, though the majority of your writing is in the lives and minds of your students, you have graciously given us with this beautiful tale as we trek through mid-October!
Thank you, Ruth. This is the most beautiful fall I’ve seen since I’ve lived here.
Beautiful pictures and inspiring words as always.
Beautiful photos, but a question: why does fall have to be so beautiful when it heralds in my absolutely least favourite season, winter. I don’t want to admire fall but I always do!
I know what you mean. I think fall’s beauty sustains us through the long, cold nights.
The students are so fortunate to travel with you.
some beautiful pictures here… and the explanation too. Thank you.
Thank you for reading, ShimonZ.
Beautiful images – truly beautiful. Maybe it is because I am a literal person that I am puzzled by your post and worried by your tiredness – I hope all is ok.
Thank you for your concern. Because of my teaching schedule, I’m tireder than I’ve ever been. I wrote the post to explain my spotty postings. I hope next semester is better.
Perhaps you are experiencing the Fall Doldrums; or maybe the Mid Season ones. Fall colours have a doldrum feel to them, if doldrums can be a colour.
I imagine the doldrums to be a winter sky gray or grey, depending on where you are looking at the sky. 🙂
The fall colors cheer my heart in the midst of a tiring semester. Thankfully, my schedule will change in the spring.
I love the vibrant colors in the pictures but love even more how your words bring me in to the journey. I ditto the others…..your students are lucky!
Thank you, Bella. It’s a privilege to teach.
Beautiful pictures. We don’t get such a change in colors here in Shanghai. I’d enjoy taking a fall walk through these leaves.
Thank you. This has been a beautiful fall in northeastern Wisconsin. We are nearing the end, but I’m grateful to live in the midst of such beauty.