Musing on the beauty of fall

Jess Vogt

As fall hits its peak, it occurs to me that I have almost missed it. With studying for the GREs, filling out grad school applications, trying to keep up with a social life and, oh yeah, going to those things called “classes,” I’ve almost completely forgotten to notice the beautiful, crisp fall weather we’re having.
Maybe it’s because I missed it last year when I was studying abroad in the tropics, or because I grew up in the Midwest and remember the beautiful falls of my childhood, or maybe it’s just because fall has always been my favorite season, but something makes me think that this year’s colors are better than ever.
Looking out my window in Hiett, I can see the rusty reds, browns and oranges next to the fading greens, all reflecting into the water of the Fox River, and I get a hint of what it must have been like for native people to live amongst only the trees and the water. Living indoors with closed blinds and often closed minds, people today sometimes forget how the world where they stand used to look before humans.
Fall always makes me think of this, because you can look out over the Fox River and, from certain vantage points, imagine that nothing but trees, water and untouched land go on forever, across the entire continent. Can you imagine what that must have looked like? That’s a landscape that more than just nature freaks like me can appreciate.
But what about the details within the landscape? Have you ever really looked? If you’re sitting reading this in Downer right now, especially from room C, you can probably see the mosaic of houses and trees outside. Take some time when you go outside to breathe in the smell of dead leaves and trees. Everything smells the opposite of spring; instead of fresh and earthy, it’s richer with more body. Few things are springing forth from the ground; instead, all things are decaying back to the earth.
As you button your vest on the walk home, look at the way the cool air causes the leaves to drift as they fall. Pick up a leaf, and actually look at all the colors in it. This year, we’ve had the perfect combination of days that are cool, but not too dry, to allow the leaves to change from an almost fluorescent green to bold shades of orange, full-bodied brown and incandescent gold.
Cool, Jess. Who cares? Enough with this Aldo Leopold crap. But I can’t help but think sometimes that, because too many people will have the above reaction to sentiments such as mine, someday all of the natural beauty we take for granted will be gone. They took all the trees, put them in a tree museum. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
However, natural beauty is important not only for day-to-day enjoyment, but for mental and physical health. Children who play outside are happier and healthier than their counterparts playing indoors. I know from my own personal experience that exposure to the natural world always makes me feel better. After all, who doesn’t smile when the weather’s beautiful?
So enjoy it. Don’t spend all your time playing Halo indoors with the blinds closed. Don’t spend too much time holed away in the library working on that independent study. Even while you’re studying for that hard class or the GRE, do it outside. Take advantage of this beautiful fall weather, because before you know it, we’ll all be whining about the snow falling.

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