Grateful for an Autumn Walk

Today’s walk at Southwest Nature Preserve was especially rewarding for me. A week ago last Sunday, I got prompt, excellent medical care for a heart attack and I seem to be recovering well. As a result, I had the chance to take a very routine short hike today, and even though it was routine, it was one that I felt very privileged to take. It could have been very different.

Sumac leaves changing color

The past few days have been cold and wet, and today started out cold – by north Texas standards – and cloudy. It has been autumn for a month now, but today it really felt like autumn. Leaves are dropping and you can see further through the woods as a result. The carpet of leaves is an intricate study in shapes and earthy colors which always captures my imagination. 

The path up the hillside opens onto a shelf of sandstone that falls off toward the northwest, forming a ridge. Lately it has been so dry that you wondered how the clumps of little bluestem grasses didn’t dry up and blow away, but a little rain over the past few days left the thin soil a little muddy and the colors a little brighter. Or perhaps it was my frame of mind that was brighter, being able to walk along this ridge again. 

Some tiny yellow flowers mixed in with a patch of native grasses pulled my attention toward a little path around the crown of the hill. I paused at a juniper to chew a couple of the small “berries” to get that little bit of sweetness along with the delightful botanical aroma. By the time I returned to the ridge, the clouds were finally breaking up and the sun lit up the preserve in a bright, beautiful afternoon that seemed especially lovely today.

Juniper berries
Maximilian sunflower, at the end of the walk