It was the last day of the weekend, the last day of the month. As always, there were hours’ worth of chores to do–dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, and so on. But the man said to his wife, “Let’s walk in the woods.” And his wife smiled at him.
He smiled back. The leaves behind him, cheerful in their new autumn wardrobe, seemed to smile too.
The man and his wife hiked along the dusty trail, winding up and down through multicolored foliage, choosing at random each time the path forked. They came upon a familiar overlook, where a lake lay in serene contrast to the riotously colored hills encircling it.
They came upon an unfamiliar inlet, where water skaters swarmed a protruding stone and a kingfisher swooped through the afternoon sunlight.
They studied the skaters. They admired the kingfisher. Then they paused to savor the variety at their feet–tiny yellow flowers that evidently fed a hungry insect…
…lamb’s ears beautifully backlit by the sinking sun…
…and an oak leaf resting on water-marked stones, the former a testament to the transience of each season and the latter a reassurance of the permanence of nature despite its changing patterns.
Even the flowers that fade leave behind seeds for new growth.
The wife leaned against the remains of a tree, her feet in a tangle of purplish vines. Their flowers were dry, their leaves brown from an arduous summer. Much like the jagged stump, the vines offered only a hint of what they once were. Between these bygones, large and small, she felt intensely alive. She smiled but, to her surprise, her husband told her not to. She was confused until she realized he wanted to capture her contemplative look.
Two can play. When he thought she wasn’t looking, she caught him thinking big thoughts (maybe) and snapped the picture. He teased that the light would render the photo unusable, but with a grin she showed him his glowing profile.
When the quiet moment ended, they wandered farther. They counted bluejays, listened to crows, and startled a chipmunk. They clasped hands as they climbed over roots and rocks. They talked about the future while soaking up the present. Eventually they went home and did all the other things that had to be done by Monday. But because the man put those things aside to make time to meander through a yellow afternoon, that’s how they’ll remember ending September.