William M. Dowd photoSo there I was, blithely heading up the Adirondack Northway in Upstate New York en route to an overnight visit to Lake Placid, minding my own business and just enjoying the scenery.
Suddenly, right around Exit 30, it hit me square in the face.
Not the usual risk-taking deer crossing the road in that semi-wilderness area. Rather, the first real sign that summer is over despite my usual protestations that we tend to rush the seasons around here.
And what, you may ask, was that sign? Just look at the photo. It's not from an earlier autumn day. It was shot today -- Friday, Sept. 7, 2007.
We still have two full weeks of summer left on the calendar, maybe even a little bit of Indian summer after that if we're lucky. But there it is -- swatches of rust and gold and burgundy and lemon among the deep greens and frosted sage greens of the evergreens.
Just a few weeks ago I was driving through the Sierra Nevada mountains from California to Nevada and couldn't help but miss our Adirondacks. Whereas the individual trees in that western range stand out because they're on islands of browned-out grass and well spaced from one another, our eons-older mountains are lush with vegetation. Spaces between trees are difficult to discern, crowded as they are with grasses, bushes and boulders.
There is something about mountains at once new but eternal, inviting but humbling. As the poet Emiliy Dickinson wrote:
"The seasons prayed around his knees,
Like children round a sire:
Grandfather of the days is he,
Of dawn the ancestor."
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