I love fall in northeast Indiana.
More to the point, I love fall in northeast Indiana, or in any other region of the country that has fall as we know it. So when former Journal Gazette colleague Sam Minick posted a photo he took of what I thought was a gloriously orange mighty oak tree in Lakeside Park several days ago, I was smitten by fall all over again. So smitten that I went searching for the tree myself on my way home Wednesday from a business meeting in equally glorious Foster Park.
I drove around and around the periphery of Lakeside, searching vainly for the tree, hoping just to see it in all its lovely orange-ness. Lakeside was full of beautiful trees, none of which I could identify, all dressed for fall, but not the tree. Defeated, I drove home, oblivious to the gorgeous red, gold, yellow and still green displays that lined my way. I can only assume that the hard rain and harder wind the night before took out most of its foliage. Fall is fleeting that way.
Here's how it works with me and trees: My now 92-year-old father spent dozens of hours hiking in the woods with me when I was a young teen and into my adult years, trying in vain to teach me how to identify trees by their leaves and bark. I paid careful attention, made mental notes, then promptly forgot everything I learned. Every time we went hiking in the woods, he patiently started all over again.
Today, I can point out a pine tree and a birch tree, but that's all I've got.
It has been a beautiful fall in a tough, tough year. I don't know whether my mystery tree is an oak or some other majestic species, but I'll miss its sheltering orange-y canopy and the warm, earthy smell of decaying leaves that will come again to nourish new life in the spring.
Julie Creek is a former Journal Gazette writer and editor.