Saturday, September 22, 2007

Falling leaves and football

Michigan is known for a lot of things--the manufacturing of cars and furniture, growing cherries, apples, corn and a multitude of other crops, the Great Lakes, the Mackinac Bridge and Upper Peninsula, Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel, the Detroit Tigers and Lions, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Kendall School of Art and Design, Western, Eastern and Central Michigan Universities. I could go on and on.

But what I will take away from this most recent visit with my sister and her husband, at least from the standpoint of revisiting Michigan, is the weather.

Anybody who knows me knows I hate humidity and high heat. That's not unique, I know; millions of people dislike uncomfortably high temperatures and the inevitable stickiness and heavy air. Michigan has its share of those days and I remember them well. But one of the things I had forgotten (and I do this time after time after time, even though I grew up and spent over a half century in this state) is the indecribably beautiful weather during the fall months.

Today is one of those picture-perfect days for which Michigan is justifiably well-known. The trees are now changing colors in earnest, seemingly overnight, and the mellow yellows, reds and oranges are growing brighter and more distinct by the hour. Today's mild and sunny temps, cool breezes, and azure skies overhead are perfect for just about anything kind of outdoor activity. We just came from Mt. Pleasant after a foray into town for some groceries and it's abuzz with college students and other Central Michigan University fans who are gathering in great hordes for the football game this afternoon.

They couldn't ask for a better day to cheer on their team. I wouldn't want to be one of the football players, weighed down with padding and covered from head to toe in skin-tight, hot uniforms, but hey, I wouldn't want to be a football player under any circumstances whatsoever. I'm sure they've played in more uncomfortable conditions and there are many reasons and rewards that spur them on. I just know that the fans in the stands are in for a gorgeous day to sit, stand, cheer, eat, drink, sing, and enjoy another of God's generous creations--a perfect Michigan fall day.

I'm glad I was here to revisit the grandeur of a Michigan autumn. I'm sure I'll enjoy the cooler days and nights in Mississippi when I return home; the residents of that deep southern state certainly deserve a break after the unrelenting summer months. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I will tuck away the exhilaration of a late September day in Michigan: leaves drifting downward on the lilting breeze, acorns pelting us from swaying branches towering overhead, the chittering of squirrels, the gobble of wild turkeys, and a doe, elegant in her tan coat and long legs munching her way through the forest of falling leaves. There are the pungent smells of marigolds and mums, damp earth and ripe apples, pine trees and yes, even the last rose of summer--all vivid reminders that even in the waning days of life, there is great beauty and an abundance of natural pleasures to be savored.

Until the next time...

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