11 nights till Hallowe’en & in the forest there is magic still


Yesterday, after I handled some business for the Converse Historical Society and visited with my ailing father, Kim, Connor, and I made our annual sojourn southwest of town to Hainlen’s Orchard to pick up this year’s pumpkins.

Hainlen’s has been a staple of the Converse community for nearly 100 years and a fixture in my life almost half that long. I love the smell of the place, especially in their market, with the blending of fruits and spices and all that cider to create a sensory overload.

After, we traveled north, to one of my most favorite haunts — the Mississinewa State Forest. We decided with autumn’s turn that a hike through the woods was in order, so we opted for the old Blue Heron Trail.

At 2.25 miles of mostly level terrain, it’s a nice, leisurely stroll through what is at times some amazingly beautiful representations of wild Indiana. We spied a doe and fawn on a couple of different occasions and a heron along the shore of Mississinewa Lake.

It was a spectacular endcap to the day, marred only by the discovery that one of my favorite parts of the woods, an arrow straight tunnel through towering pines, was devastated by rot, decay, and the advance of poison ivy. Those northern pines were bare, the once thick carpet of copper needles overrun by grass and vines…

I worried that a bit of magic was gone from the place, but there was still something wondrous and beautiful in its demise. The spell was still cast. It’s ghost remained in the skeleton frames of the soaring shafts and the lingering memories of the years when I’d camped there, often in fall and winter, drifted in and out among the spires.

It’s said that all things must pass, but I don’t know if that’s squarely true. Sometimes, they transform instead, remaining behind as a new thing, striking and extraordinary in its own way. Different, yes, but the shadow still lingers…

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