It’s hard to keep my eyes on the road these days, driving through the valleys and ridges and tiny towns of western Pennsylvania.
Even as October winds to an end and more and more trees stand dry and naked under the bright blue of autumn skies, still the colors take my breath.
There are more red leaves now, burnt dark and deep, and orange tipped with red like flames. They run up slopes and down until the hills are burning with their color.
I carried a camera when I followed the road to Clymer late one morning, but I didn’t stop, trying to make it to the district court for records before they closed for lunch (the only place in the county I know of that closes for lunch is the court system).
But I took the back roads home, winding up the ridge passed dirt and gravel Amish lanes to higher ground, winding between newly-cut fields and farm houses and old, weather-beaten barns and always, on the edge of the open, the trees standing in their glory.
The two-lane road was empty when I pulled half into a grassy ditch, tried to catch the color. But my small, point-and-shoot digital camera is old (six years?) and my skill is lacking and so little of that color was captured.
It rained long and soft and steady earlier in the week, and even then the sodden leaves thick on the ground were bright, glistening in the wet.
Wednesday, my day off, I walked through town, dropping by the library, consignment shop, pharmacy, bank and gym before walking slowly home. A block or so beyond my house is an old graveyard, headstones listing wearily out of the grass, rising up to the old church overlooking the town. An old tree with wide-spread branches shaded the oldest of these, golden leaves filtering golden sunlight down.
Today the clouds are back, and the wind cold, and the leaves are falling, falling, swirling in its strength. October is passing, and nearly gone. The rain is mixed with spitting sleet, and clouds hang low over the valleys, mist rising up to meet them.
I pulled my coat tight around me as I ran to the car after an assignment, beads of water and ice standing out on my pen and soaking into my notebook.
Tomorrow, the sun will shine again, because it is still fall and the weather changes daily. So I will drive a little slower, when I can, and breathe deep of crisp air and try to soak every drop of color left into my soul.
Because the last leaves will be falling, soon, and give way to the sleet and snow of winter.