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Travels With Maggie: The Wonders of Fall

How It Works

If you are new to this series, allow me to summarize what we are doing here. Every single day - rain, snow, sleet, or life-affirming sunshine - I take my dogs, Maggie and Toby, for a walk around the neighborhood. When we first started this ritual, I would drive them out to the farm owned by my stepson and his wife, and we would walk the farm and neighboring countryside.

Sadly, that stretch of road and countryside saw an influx of new families, so that the countryside is no longer really country but rather semi-urban. And if we must walk along a road with houses, we may as well simply walk through our own neighborhood, so that’s what we’ve been doing for the last year.

Would you like to join us? We begin each of our walks at the edge of the driveway where the pavement ends and the wonders begin.

All ready to go!

All ready to go!

Late September

Cool evenings, sweater-cool, the sun lower on the horizon during the days, noticeably lower, still warming the area, but it takes longer to do so, you know, well past noon before you can shed the light coat and go it with shirtsleeves, perfect weather to kickstart Mother Nature, signal her that it’s time for the color show, the following program is brought to you in living color, by NBC, remember the peacock plumage, back in the late 50’s, early 60’s, God I remember it so clearly, the wonders of color television, replicating the real world, Mom and Dad, me and my dog Pixie, gathered around the console television, watching Bonanza and Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.

And that’s what late September, early October, means to me, the Wonderful World of Color, not manufactured by a camera and digital enhancement, but presented to you, with love, from Isanaklesh, or The Great Mother if you prefer, a dazzling display of oranges and reds, yellows and combinations of the three, free to the public for our enjoyment and inspiration.

Let's get started, please!

Let's get started, please!

A Subtle Transformation

It’s so very easy to miss the beginnings. A birch may send out the first signal, or an elm, possibly a maple, depending upon your location, hard to say who is first, one tree, then two, then three, over the course of a week, along this path, by week’s end a handful or more, Maggie paying no attention to it all, Toby finding the fallen leaves playful items for his amusement, me remembering back to fall afternoons raking large piles of leaves, diving headfirst into the piles, then raking them again, grand fun, at no cost, just a kid and his dog Pixie, passing the time with mindless entertainment, fast forward to today, raking the leaves, watching Toby run headfirst into the pile, toss leaves into the air with his snout, leaping vertically to catch them, and Maggie watching with interest, at first detached, as is her norm, but then invested in it, actually invested in it, until my girl can’t help herself, and she’s tossing leaves with her brother, great fun for all as I laugh and applaud their antics.

The Change Accelerates

I swear, it’s only a week or two, and suddenly the entire walk is more kaleidoscope than black and white, and the leaves are plentiful below, kicking them up as I walk, the dogs into it then, every fallen leaf is their plaything, not those expensive toys purchased at pet stores, but great fun nonetheless, and I’m humming “Autumn Leaves” as we walk, a song from the distant past, played it once at an organ recital, the autumn leaves, drift by my window, the autumn leaves, of red and gold, Nat King Cole singing with me, or so it seems, so vivid are the memories of days gone by, back when my hair was brown, my muscles supple . . . the song continues to play in my mind’s ear . . . since you went away, the days grow long, and soon I’ll hear old winter’s song - and suddenly it doesn't seem to be a song about the seasons, but rather about aging, and man alive can I ever relate.

And Continues

One more week along this path and the change is complete, the colors at their most vibrant, the mind unable to categorize it all, pumpkin orange, sunset red, electric yellow, like giant beach balls attached to trunks, and the evergreens providing a backdrop of contrast, making the colors seems more vivid, more vibrant, more alive, and that’s a strange thought, the colors appearing to be more alive when, in fact, they signal the hibernation of a winter fast approaching.

Maggie and Toby, they love this weather, the crispness of it all. There is spring in their step, a play on words if I ever heard one, the sluggishness of the dog days gone now, replaced by childish behavior, tails erect, their coats shining brightly, their eyes filled with expectations, and I find myself envious of their youth, envious of their unbridled joy, envious of their explorations and their lack of preconceived notions and opinions, unencumbered by schedules and responsibilities . . . and I sigh!

Times like these, on walks like these, I can forget the COVID, forget the political madness, and forget the hardships so many endure, and simply be with my dogs. They are good company, my dogs, and they combine with pleasant, loving memories of times gone by, memories I cherish, memories which warm me on cool afternoons, and warm me even more as the winter winds approach, uninvited. Soon the leaves will all fall, will be raked up, hauled away, blown away, dissolving into the soil, replenishing it, giving it sustenance, preparing it for a new spring, new growth, and the cycle continues, as it always has, and that thought provides comfort to me.

There will be new buds on those limbs, after the winter snows melt, and those buds will grow and flourish and cloak us in a comforter of green, birth follows death as surely as the sun follows the night, a truth known thousands of years in the past, known now, and to be known in the future, known by my parents, known by me, known by my son, and so it goes.

Just an old man walking with his two dogs on a late-September afternoon.

A sure sign that winter is approachng.

A sure sign that winter is approachng.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

And so it is with these walks! Maggie, these walks tire her out more than her brother, for Toby is still child enough to be endless in his pursuit of fun, but as soon as we get home they both lay down, close their eyes, and sleep. Me, I have emails to answer, articles to write, chores to do, and errands to run, but for one hour, each day, I am able to turn back the calendar, suspend reality, and take a magic carpet ride back in time, to simpler times, to times I hold dear, close to my heart, where the valuables are always safe from thieves.

I’m so happy you were able to join us today. You are welcome any old time you can find the time, silly notion, that, finding time, as if it were hidden from view, but the offer still stands, and you know where you can find us, where the pavement ends and the wonders begin, just an old man and his dogs, ready for adventure, walking through the landscape of life.

Happy Traveling to you all!

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

Umesh, I would be a crazy man, living amongst all that concrete. This man does not do well in crowds of people. Blessings to you always. Be happy and safe, and thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

Thanks so much, Kalpana! I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

Flourish, if my dogs made you smile, I'm a happy man. They are adorable for sure. Don't get me wrong, they can be a pain in my ass, but I can't imagine a day without them. They anchor me daily until Bev comes home.

Right now Bev needs anchoring. All of the depressing news is getting her down. She doesn't rebound as quickly as I do. I think we'll have to do something special this weekend to snap her out of her funk.

Anyway, you have a great Thursday, my friend. Striker says hello!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

I suspect, Flourish, they would profess their undying love of me. LOL They are very loyal, these two, at my feet right this moment, waiting for me to get their leashes.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

We haven't turned the heat on yet, Meg, or started a fire, which is unusual considering the date. That will probably change this weekend.

Thanks for joining us.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

Thank you Dora! The last few days, these walks have meant wearing a light coat, first time for that in four months. A sure sign that winter is approaching quickly.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

Mr. Happy, great idea about the hummingbird feeders. Don't know why I didn't think of that. Duh! I'll go look for some this weekend, thank you very much.

Renovations coming to our home this winter, the kitchen and bathroom. I'm not looking forward to the mess, but I am looking forward to the final product.

Okay, must go to the dump, then pick up a load of compost. A day of shoveling awaits me.

Take care, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

Thank you so much, Brenda. Yes, we burned the piles of leaves too. I had forgotten about that. Today, we would never dream of doing such a thing. We go around the neighborhood and haul all the leaves back to our house, put them on the garden, and let nature do its things renewing the soil. Great fun!

Blessings to you always!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

I'm glad you were able to join us, Pamela. It's always nice having great company, and you are great company indeed.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

Becky, not wearing a coat for the six months of winter weather sounds very nice. It's coming soon here. And growing veggies year round sounds like heaven to this gentleman farmer. Sounds like you've found your Shangila.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

I'll try to have another walk written up for you soon, Sha. I'm trying to get as much done outside as possible before the rains arrive this weekend. Once they arrive they will not be detoured until April. :) But thank you for always being here, and I'm delighted you enjoy walking with us. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 08, 2020:

I am a lucky guy for sure, Linda! I remind myself of that daily, right after I wake up. Life is good, plain and simple.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 08, 2020:

Bill, Just reading it made me to visualuse the energy you are able to gather from this morning ritual. I remember, long back in my village, I had same experience going over the leaves carpeting the narrow passage amid wheat fields. That was fabulous. Now I am living in a jungle of concrete far ftom my village. Anyway, thanks for posting the beautiful narration.

Kalpana Iyer from India on October 08, 2020:

Bliss! I could visualize everything in my mind - it all sounds so serene. Loved your narration.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on October 07, 2020:

Hi Bill.

Sadly, we don't get the autumn fireworks in my area like you do. The trees mainly go from green to yellow to bare. I understand Scotland has more of what you describe. Stands to reason as it has more unspoiled landscapes than here.

I loved watching Disney in the days before it began devouring everything in sight. It was both the high and low point of my week. I so looked forward to escaping to another world but in the back of my mind was the knowledge I was that much closer to the end of the weekend.

Your pups are just so adorable. Makes me smile every time I see them and isn't that a nice way to start the day.

Enjoy your day, Bill.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 07, 2020:

My favorite time of year for the weather, the vivid colors and the activity. Your dogs seem to love the walk as much as you do. I wonder how they would describe you and your walks verbally if they could talk so that we could understand them?

RoadMonkey on October 07, 2020:

Great walk again and Nat King Cole is a good accompaniment to an autumn walk. It's getting cold here and leaves are beginning to turn but they seem to be later this year.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 07, 2020:

I imagine that this walk was extra invigorating with the crisp air and the amazing mix of colors. Sounds like the best of life for "an old man his dogs." A beautiful share!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on October 07, 2020:

I like the fall too. It's the colours that get me. I mean, spring is beautiful with all the flowers but fall ... You can see one tree with a multitude of colours: leaves yellow, green, red, etc. It's gorgeous!

You know what You should put on those hooks, on your porch? Other than the chimes that is: a humming-bird feeder. Then, You can sit on your front porch in the summer watching humming-birds come and feed. They're pretty cool. My one buddy has one at his cottage. I don't know ... it just looked like the spot for one. It's your porch, haha!!

Your dogs look awfully cute; always. Give 'em a hug for me - thanks! : )

That stack of wood is pretty depressing. Not that I do not like winter. I love It but this summer has been terribly short. I only camped a few times and only did a fraction of the hiking I usually would do. Now, back to hibernation. Haha!! No. Actually, "now" back to renovating the kitchen. Let me stop dreaming. There's work to do. Haha!!

Alrighty, You have yourself a good one!

May Wakan Tanka always walk with You.


BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 07, 2020:


You make this walk come to life right here on my little cellphone.

I can picture Toby & Maggie having so much fun in the leaves.

It reminds me of a time as a child when my father would rake tgem all together in a pile.

Back in the day we could light them on fire instead of sacking them up to be hauled away.

I was tempted just like your doggies...I always jumped into the pile and played.

I remember Disneys World of color also...I must be telling my age here but the memories are definitely there.

You describe the color and the time of seasons so well.

Enjoy each moment of your life.

Take care.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 07, 2020:

That one hour makes an otherwise busy or hectic day such a pleasure. This is absolutely the best time of the year. I wish I could travel north as that is what I did for years whenever possible, but today it is a bit like a virutal walk I enjoy watching the enthusiasm of Toby. It has been a lovely walk, Bill. Thank you.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on October 07, 2020:

I enjoyed your descriptions of Autumn. I do not miss raking the leaves though. You said you do not understand retirees moving to Arizona, but I do not understand how anyone can stand to live locked up in their houses, unable to get out because of the cold, ice, and snow. My bones and joints ached all winter long. My husband did not do well in the cold either.

He had a Kevlar nose, since Vietnam. The cold would get it cold and he would have instant migraines. We enjoyed the heat in Arizona, in limited amounts. We found a place with moderate temps year round. Never gets to freezing and rarely quite to 100. We stayed inside when it was too hot, but it was dry heat. Humidity is different. We popped out onto the porch as soon as the sun went down, and enjoyed spending our evenings outside.

Just a few hours in the middle of the day get really hot. During the winter, I only seem to wear a coat a few days a year. I get by with sweaters most days. I sit outside on my porch and watch the birds and lizards all year round. I also grow veggies all year round. I love it here.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 07, 2020:

Jumping in a pile of leaves was one of my favorite Fall pastimes when I was a kid. The colors, the scents, the crinkle and crunch were intoxicating.

I can picture Maggie and Toby jumping up to nip at the falling leaves. And I hear your chuckle as you shake your head in wonder at the ceaseless energy of discovery your beloved canines display so innocently.

I love these walks with you three, Bill. They're a nice break in the day, emptying the mind of stress, ill will, and bad news, allowing it to wander free in the breezes of colorful memories.

And now, I'm afraid it's back to work for this little girl. See you next week, same time, same place?

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 07, 2020:

Bill, another enjoyable walk. Like your Maggie and Toby, I much prefer the crisp air of Autumn as opposed to the heat of Summer.

How wonderful that you have them as a diversion, a mini-vacation from the daily craziness. I think that having those two is not unlike having small children. You get to stop and re-examine life, see the world through their eyes of wonderment. You're a lucky guy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 07, 2020:

Lots of pumpkin patches happening here right now. All of the apples have fallen to the ground, I'm afraid. I was out pruning yesterday, Shannon. Now a hayride does sound fun, doesn't it? But not snakes in leaf piles...no thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 07, 2020:

No longer in the 100's is good news, Peggy. I saw a picture of bluebell fields down your way. Spectacular color! We have coloring maples and you have your bluebells. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 07, 2020:

Spring or Fall, Mary, it's a toss-up for me. I love them both. I can't say the same for Summer and Winter, however.

Winsome it shall be, my friend. Thank you and the same to you.


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 07, 2020:

Thank you John! No big message today; I just wanted to work on my descriptions. Glad you approved.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 07, 2020:

The older I get, Heidi, the less I like summer. Just too damned hot for this old man. How do so many retirees move to Arizona to retire? I don't understand that at all.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 07, 2020:

Looking forward to the Spring, Mary? I love your optimism. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 07, 2020:

Thank you Rosina, and a beautiful Wednesday to you as well.

Shannon Henry from Texas on October 07, 2020:

We dont' really get what one might call an actual fall season here. I do miss those spectacular colors every time fall comes around, though. And I wouldn't let my kids play in piles of leaves here because of snakes. Never had to worry about that growing up. We also have a puppy that would love plunging through piles of leaves. But the temps here are still warm most days. By the time the leaves are gone, there will have been little evidence of the changing seasons. Just summer to piles of brown leaves to rake up. A stray maple here and there might provide a little splash of color maybe, but the colors are not everywhere as you describe. Now I'm all nostalgic for things like hayrides, apple orchards, and pumpkin patches. LOL

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 07, 2020:

We do not get the technicolor show you do, living in Houston, but I fondly remember those glorious fall days when we lived in Wisconsin. And yes, the Autumn Leaves song does take on added meaning at our ages in the seventh decade of life.

It has cooled off down here. It is no longer in the 100s, thank heavens! Now, once we are past hurricane season, we'll breathe another sigh of relief.

Thanks for sharing another great walk with your dogs, and thanks for the memories...another song reference that goes back in time.

Ann Carr from SW England on October 07, 2020:

I love Autumn too, for its vibrant colours and its mists and mellow fruitfulness. I'm always torn when people ask which is my favourite season - Spring, with its new life and hope, or Autumn, with its colours, harvests and its peacefulness. Spring usually wins but only by a dog's whisker.

Great walk, I enjoyed following along and watching your dogs cavorting. I can identify with the kicking up of the dry leaves - wonderful!

Have a winsome Wednesday, bill!


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 07, 2020:

This was such a delightful walk today, Bill. Maggie and Toby are a joy to be around and their energy and wonder at the world around (even simple falling leaves) must be infectious. Very descriptive and well-written as always.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 07, 2020:

It's the same here! Fall colors are just starting to show more prominently. Dogs are walking a lot faster now that it's getting cooler, and I am, too. I love fall. Mainly because it's such a relief after summer which is my least favorite time of the year.


Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 07, 2020:

I can relate to your experience now but I remembered listening to Nat King Cole bellowing that song not understanding the change in seasons but enjoying the song. As you say, now that we're older, the interpretation takes on a new perspective. We are closing the cottage this weekend and part of Fall is that, too, for us. Closing a part of us but looking forward to Spring.

Rosina S Khan on October 07, 2020:

I like the way you describe Late September and Early October as the Wonderful World of Color. It's lovely that both Toby and Maggie play tossing leaves. Yes, I am happy to join a walk with you and your dogs today. A beautiful Wednesday to you!

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