When things slow down

Fall has always been my favourite time of year. In fact, I've often thought that it should be the start of the New Year instead of January. In my life, fall has always been about new starts. School begins back up, activities that broke for summer are once again in session and everybody returns from a (hopefully) refreshing rest. If we're fortunate, we've played a bit and now we're ready to get back to important projects and endeavours.

A few stars reflected in the stream as the lights gently dance on a calm and quiet autumn evening.

Yet with all the hustle and bustle that the season of falling leaves brings, there's also a certain slowing that occurs in northern Canadian life. There's that urge to hunker down with a blanket and a good cup of tea or take a gentle stroll through the trails, watching the wind gently blow the leaves along the path. There's a lot of reflection in this time of year for me, maybe it's in trying to hold on to the last few drops of summer before the cruel bitterness of northern winter sets in. Maybe it's a sort of instinct to hibernate like the bears do, or maybe it's just because everything is so damn beautiful it's hard not to be introspective and aware of life in general.

It can be so calming to stand outside waiting for my camera's shutter this time of year. The added bonuses are that it's not cold and there are no bugs! While I wait, I just stare up at the starry sky with unending awe or watch the northern lights dance if I'm lucky enough to be catching them on an active night. These months are also prone to meteor shower activity and most fall nights I see at least two or three falling stars or even the odd fireball. Or, if you prefer, you can just stare up at the Milky Way, which is pretty damn impressive all on its own. It's amazing to be far from the city lights and pollution and take the cold, crisp air into my lungs. Sometimes, if the lights are really exciting, you might even catch me doing a little happy dance, and if a spontaneous, solo, happy dance performance in the dark, in the middle of nowhere isn't an exhibition of real inner calm and peace, I don't know what is!

Sometimes I use the quiet to just take time to reflect and ponder things. It's been an especially good time for reflection this year with the recent discovery of all the indigenous children found buried on residential school grounds. I held space for those souls on several recent excursions out under the stars, I've been thinking about it a lot. Since hearing about it I started reading some of those stories and each one is harder than the last. I couldn't believe what had been going on so recently in our past. I'm really hoping we can all continue to listen to these painful stories and learn from them, not just on National Truth and Reconciliation Day, but every day, so we can all find positive ways to take accountability, make reparations and move forward.

It's also a great time for holidays like Thanksgiving because at this time of year it's easy to see that we can find many things to be thankful for. All you need to do is look outside, whether it's under the stars or out on a sunny day, to see the beauty that surrounds us. Being out in nature is the closest I come to religion, and it never fails to bring me peace. In the fall, it's all ten times as intense in every way, and most of all, I can put my mind at ease; I can use the time to be reflective, to appreciate my surroundings and my whole existence, to just be glad I'm here. It's like a whole season of meditation for me. I relish it. I try to squeeze out all the fall I can before the snow flies, as it soon will. That brings a different kind of peace, but that's for another time, and there's plenty of it coming, so we'll save it for now, and I'll leave you all with a couple more photos of the lights reflected in the water before they freeze up and get covered until the thaw.

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