The warmth of a new morning was glowing gold on the faded hills that frame the view from my balcony. I saw orange and yellow leaves light up as they held tight to their branches. Heavy white pillows of fog were drifting slowly down the river valley and long shadows leaned across the yard. The air was cool and calm and my breath mixed seamlessly with the warm steam rising from the mug that I held between my chilly fingers.
I love the way the world slows down when autumn arrives each year. Time passes all too quickly and it’s far too easy to allow life to become cluttered. But when the sun begins to rise and fall each day on long slow angles, complications are dissolved and everything appears simple again. I kept that in mind as I pedaled up my driveway, and I left my phone, wallet, and keys at home.
The pavement was loud beneath my tires and the autumn air was cold against my eyes. I cruised on down the road, bouncing in and out of ditches and popping wheelies over driveways. I did a tire grind against a curb and dodged a mailbox, and I carved a hard turn toward the forest and left the world behind me.
The leaves had changed a time or two since the last time I’d pedaled through the woods. What was once alive and green and full was now exploding in a thousand autumn tones. I climbed steady and the air stung inside my chest but the harder I pedaled the warmer I became. The forest floor was a maze of frost and fallen leaves and I struggled to find traction beneath nearly every pedal stroke.
As always, the struggle resolved with a state of bliss when I looked back down at where I came from. Atop the trail the sun was warm on my skin. The fog burned out of the valley and the sky was clear and blue. There wasn’t a single bird in a tree or even a gentle breeze to disturb the fallen leaves. I sat still in the afternoon silence without a single sound in my ear.
I couldn't imagine a more pleasant scene than the one that lay out before me that autumn afternoon. And I wished that everyone could be so lucky as to see the world the way that I saw it in that moment. I wished that they too could slow down for a minute, and sit still, and look at everything that surrounds them. Maybe if we could all embark on a mellow solo ride beneath the autumn sky we wouldn't all be in such a rush.
I thought it a bit scary, the way the things we keep in our pockets can sort of control us. Advanced electronic devices in our front pockets can make us so busy, so important, and so entitled. Plastic cards in our wallets make us chase after things we don’t need.
I sat still for a short while longer. Soaking in the moment for all it was worth. After all, those late fall rides are fragile and exist in chance for only short periods of time. But if I lay there a lot longer the trees would soon become silhouettes and the sun would then sink behind them. So I stood up to carry on my way and patted my pockets to make sure I was ok. And I wished to never find myself too far from that forest and those comforts that I enjoyed on that autumn day, and I smiled as I began pedaling home with all I needed in my empty pockets.
Banner image courtesy of Riff Stills
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