Oak Creek Canyon

December 6, 2009
I walked down the beaten path, which was covered with tinted red and yellow leaves. I watched as my feet made their way along the trail, crunching with every dry leaf that they stepped on. The three-pointed leaves that were once a brilliant shade of green were now coming to the grand finale of their lives. Orange, pink, yellow and red trees were visible from every angle of the trail. Tall, magnificent trees stood side by side, with hundreds of fragile leaves barely hanging onto the branches. When a leaf could hold on no longer, it glided smoothly through the air until it landed soundlessly on the soft ground.

As I continued down the path with autumn colors swirling around me, I came across a small, flowing stream. I decided to sit down on a perfectly smooth rock near the stream where I could listen to the water run across the pebbles. Tiny waterfalls were created by the stones and pebbles within the stream. The sound of the wind through the trees and the flowing stream seemed to make a beautiful, melodious song that no human being would ever be able to compose on paper.

I decided to continue on along the trail, until I came across the ruins of a very old house. The half-broken walls were completely covered with thick, green vines, making it impossible to see what the walls were made out of. The roofless ruins had an aged, broken down fireplace that was now filled with lush, green plants. Across from the fireplace was a circular hole in the wall. The shape seemed odd for a window. Walking through the ruins, an image of the house in its former state came into my mind; I could see a family walking in and out of the house, gathering fire wood and placing it into the fireplace, preparing for their next meal.

After walking past the ruins, I was able to again see colorful leaves appear into the trees. Sunlight cut through the trees at odd angles, creating pockets of warmth in the air along the trail. The imperfect ground became rougher and rockier as I wandered along the three-mile path. The rocks and hills became bigger and steeper; the streams became wider and deeper. The trees seemed to stand closer together, more densely, causing the air to become colder.

I finally reached my destination, which was the three-mile mark. The only way to continue from there would be to wade through a creek, three feet deep in clear, cold water. My destination was a circular clearing, with large boulders piled in the center. The gentle leaved trees surrounding the clearing stood strong and sturdy, guarding and protecting the area. Wind whispered through their branches, shaking their leaves until a few weak ones could not hang on any longer. Leaves were constantly scattering the ground, adding color and brilliance to the boring dirt floor. I walked over to the mouth of the creek and gazed into the dark, clear water. On either side of the creek there was a tall, magnificent canyon wall. Thin water spiders floated on the surface of the water, leaving quick, shallow dents beneath their feet. Smooth pebbles could be seen lying at the bed of the creek, all crowded together as if they were trying to stay warm. A few of the autumn leaves floated on the surface of the creek, while others sank sadly to the bottom.

My exhausted legs were experiencing a screaming pain, which forced me to have to sit down on one of the large boulders in the middle of the clearing. The swift wind continued to swirl dry leaves all around me, making what seemed like miniature tornadoes in midair. I looked up at the sky through the trees, noticing the absence of clouds. The timid blue color seemed almost too perfect to exist. There was not a single imperfection that could be seen among the homogenous expanse above me. Melodious birds flew through the sky, sweetly chirping and eventually landing softly on a stiff tree branch. The jovial birds did not have a care in the world, singing and chirping all day, adding their part to the odd, yet enticing harmony. The canyon was filled with unimaginable instruments that were all played together endlessly, without hesitation.

After a while, my legs were no longer tired and I started the journey back, retracing my steps. I began to recognize rocks, trees, and even a few lovely leaves that I had passed by before. One leaf in particular was so immensely fascinating that I had to take it home with me. With a vibrant shade of dark pink, the leaf looked like it had been hand painted with a textured brush. Veins were painted carefully with detail, never ceasing to retain a perfect stroke. The edges of the leaf were a lighter shade of pink than the center, adding intense dimension and personality. I carefully placed it into a plastic bag, making sure to keep it flat within my backpack.

As I trudged along the worn path, I noticed that the fallen leaves made a carpet on the ground floor, softening the trail. In some areas the “carpet” was considerably thick, making it near impossible to see the dirt floor. As my eyes focused beyond the path, I realized just how imperfect, yet beautiful, the grand trees were. Unlike the sky, the trees had an array of colors and spots all along the trunk, the long branches, and the leaves. The imperfections were what made the trees so magnificent and divine; a different type of beauty than that of the sky.

The true meaning of beauty lingered in my mind as I gradually became closer to the start of the trail where I first began my journey. The trees continued to lose several leaves at a time, and in a few weeks I knew that they would be bare, ready for the cold winter. I finally returned to the beginning of the path, content with the fascinating elements of nature that I had discovered, and ready to hike the trail once more.

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