What a fun time Hanni and I had on our visit to Champaign County! We made lots of new friends at the Philo Library, Countryside Day School and St. Thomas School, and the weather was absolutely sensational. Between school and library visits we managed to meet up with a few old friends, take long walks, linger on park benches and catch up on each other’s lives. An excerpt from my first book, Long Time, No See describes the beauty of a Fall day in central Illinois:
I’d fallen in love with the twin cities of Champaign-Urbana back in my freshman year at the University of Illinois. It didn’t matter that there was nowhere to hike or canoe, or that the campus was surrounded by, even included, corn and soybean fields. It seemed a vibrant place. I was caught up in the rush of thirty-five thousand students hustling from class to class.
Champaign-Urbana may lack a striking natural beauty—it defines the word “flat,” and the creek that trickles through it, more of a drainage ditch, is known as The Boneyard. But what the two towns have, especially Urbana, is trees. Huge, magnificent old maples and oaks with an unearthly gift for turning brilliant scarlet and sunset yellow. A few white clouds set against a deep sky on a fall afternoon—we could watch them indefinitely from our vantage point on the porch swing.
I may not be able to see those brilliant scarlet and sunset yellow leaves anymore, but c’mon – don’t you think you can smell the colors? My friends and I felt the sun on our faces and heard the leaves crackling under our feet as we walked arm in arm and shared our stories. One talk reflected on a reunion, another on a retirement, a reconnection with a long-lost friend, a dear relative who had just died. Change was in the air, and in our conversations, too.
How perfect it was to be surrounded by all those falling leaves as we talked, reminding us that hey, depending on how you look at it, change can be a beautiful thing.