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The Pale Yellow Leaves of Fall
Brush Lake school forest has been a part of the Park Rapids school system for a very long time. It was first donated on February 23, 1956. Since then it has been used by numerous students and teachers to learn about nature, provide inspiration, and sometimes just provide a place to get away from everything and enjoy what nature has to offer. I was one of these students on a chilly morning in September when my college English class took a trip to the forest.
The air is crisp and cool. Though according to the calendar, fall has only been here less than a week, the pale yellow leaves caressed by the wind beg to differ. It is the typical fall day: chilly, wet, with clouds hanging low in the sky. The damp air seems to press against my skin, chilling me to the bone. This fall day brings back many memories and feelings that I associate with this time of year.
I am surrounded by beautiful fall scenery. There are infinite things to write about. The bright red leaf lying in the pile of brown ones, how it stands out from the crowd just like I aspire to do one day. The tall, strong tree that supports several other trees around it, but could not do so if it was not leaning on other trees as well. Just like how in life even the strongest of us can’t stand tall without help, but when we ask for help it gives the opportunity to help others even more. Despite all of this the one thing that stands out to me the most is the season itself.
Fall represents many things to me, but there is one in particular that stands out. Fall signals the end of the freedom of summer break and the beginning of a new year at school. This feeling has changed a lot over the years. In my younger years when my summers consisted of spending time with my parents, my brother, and the occasional friend the summers stretched on seemingly forever. Each day stretching out like an interstate on a long road trip. The lack of obligations and responsibilities made summer days crawl by slower than the snails I spent so much time watching.
Summer is very different now from my younger days where the endless days drifted by in an idyllic haze. Now my days are split between work, sports practices, college visits, and getting out on the lake any chance that I get. It feels like one minute I am celebrating the end of school and before I know it I am on the dock, marveling at the bright lights $dancing in the sky on the Fourth of July, then I am walking into the school to be dragged through another fall rules meeting. After that, I'm all the sudden strapping up my pads for the first day of practice, and before I know it I am in my room packing up my backpack for school wondering where my summer went.
No matter how different my summers are now they always end in the same result. It is time to go back to school. This can be good news or bad news depending on who you ask. When I was younger, it was most definitely bad news as I was devastated at the loss of my freedom and not ready to return to the somewhat rigid lifestyle that was third grade at century elementary school in Park Rapids, Minnesota. Going from a day filled where I wake up and my only priority for the day is how I can have to most fun to a day where most of my activities are laid out by a teacher was a harsh change. I had to trade in my days on the lake for days in the classroom and eight year old Jake was not happy about that.
Ironically, now that my school is significantly more strenuous I actually look forward to it a lot more now that I appreciate the social aspect and have learned to appreciate the challenge of the work as well as the satisfaction of accomplishing something difficult. The biggest thing that I learned was that I cannot wish my life away and spend my whole school year wishing it was the weekend or wishing it was summer. Instead, I have to just enjoy the time I am in now and that will make the rest of my life more enjoyable.
Just as I have to stay positive as I went from the freedom of summer into the school year, I have to stay positive going from the relatively relaxed life of a high school student to the more rigorous demands that come with life as an adult. It is a similar transition period to the fall season that we are experiencing right now.
Right now, I am entering the fall of my life.
Childhood was the spring, where everything is optimistic and positive and you have nothing but summer to look forward to. My adolescent and high school years are the summer of my life. The responsibilities, while more than in childhood, are relatively minimal. While the opportunities to do fun stuff such as spending time with friends and high school sports are as plentiful as they will ever be. That kind of freedom has to come to an end at some point. I believe I am entering the fall of my life because it is now time for me to grow up. Mature. Prepare for the winter that is life as an adult.
As I did when I started school I now have a choice as to how to approach this new stage of my life. I can either go into it like I would enter third grade with dread, trepidation and just wishing for summer. Alternatively, I could keep an open mind and try to enjoy the changes in my life. It is important to remember that even though things are different they are by no means worse. While going to college and moving out will come with more responsibility it will also come with more freedoms and opportunities to do things that I am passionate about that I have never had growing up in Park Rapids, Minnesota. It is this that I must remember as I sit in the pale yellow leaves of autumn and prepare to navigate the fall of my life.