In religious circles, “the fall” gets such a bum rap. Adam and Even disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden, therefore everyone born into the world is tainted by this fall, this original sin.
Me, I find nothing but grace, redemption and beauty in the fall at Midewin, my Garden of Eden.
The air crisp. The sun warm. Autumnal colors sharp against the crystalline-blue sky. There is no blood red to compare with Virginia creeper in October.
There is no royal robe so purple as common asters.
There is no gold so precious as sneezeweed. Or one of a dozen or more native goldenrods.
Somehow, even the oranges and ambers seem more vibrant and alive when glimpsed from the inside of one of the old munitions bunkers remaining from the Joliet Arsenal days.
And is there any more handsome head dress to be found than atop a white-crowned sparrow?
Is there any more hopeful sign of the prairie’s recovery than the imminent return of bison?
Just as hopeful and beautiful are the tiny creatures that call Midewin home, such as this banded garden spider backlit while suspended within its translucent web.
I am not alone this sacred day. Nor should I be. Midewin is a welcoming place for birders, hikers and horse-people, alike.
Midewin is a place of retreat and refuge and rejuvenation. And even as the prairie grasses and flowers begin to fade, I find great comfort and strength in their sending their energy underground, into their roots, deep into the prairie soils. So, too, as I walk through the autumnal prairie do I feel my own energies at one with the healing earth of Midewin. I am grateful for this fall.