There’s a trail in St. Croix Falls, WI by the river I have to visit it every time I go home. It is a solitary, silent place. Even in the summer, it feels colder than the surrounding area. Sometimes it is muddy and the seldom-used trails are swallowed by the forest. This becomes a problem since I habitually arrive here about 2 hours later than I intended, and I have to race the setting sun as I fumble back to where I think I parked the car.
The last time I took this walk in the autumn was as a senior in high school, when my friend Suzie and I were scoping it out as the potential location of our senior photo shoot. In the end, we decided against it, thinking it would be too physically demanding of a walk for the photographer. At this time I was listening to Pieces Iscariot
on repeat and forever associate that time with this song
. My friend Krista told me she once went for a walk here and after wandering off the trail, came upon a dozen of tiny strips from those hand-held label makers of the ’90’s with the name “Christa” on them. Same name, different spelling. Weird.
The first time I came here was with my dad. I was about 9 or 10? He showed me his Wisconsin ginseng plants and a rare form of cactus. Yes, this area holds a lot of history for me. There are two parts of trails by County Road S; the flat fields surrounding the cross country ski trials and the up and down trail to the river. These photos are of the former.
Autumn is so marked back home. The trees leaves turn and fall, a dramatic performance of mortality. The smells and the crisp air is thick and inescapable. It smells like earthy death. And it is so dry! Things are crisp and disintegrating fast. Just smelling the autumn around me quickened my step, as if I better hunker down for winter like two days ago.
Gold fields, burnt orange of the oaks, velvety orange red of sumac, grey-brown bare branches, so different than the green, green, Ireland emerald green of my home back in Portland. It’s a little alarming how I have grown accustomed to a new perpetual semi-fall after only 3 seasons away from the Midwest. Me, with the laser-sharp, photographic, 5-sensory, detailed and sentimental memory has already forgotten the way autumn used to be. Which made this walk even more magical.