Autumn is all too brief for my liking. It’s a splash of perfect apple weather – crisp, scarlet and ochre. You can’t walk down the street without being distracted by a tree or bush ablaze in golden or crimson glory.
Usually, I take a drive up north to soak up the autumn colours. But this year, I wanted to be different. Perhaps it might be more fun to take in some fall splendour from my bicycle. This way, I’d be truly immersed in this most diva of seasons.
Along the Don Valley bike trail, there’s a ghetto slap of green and purple graffiti, just in case the warm October haze spins you too far away from reality. I’m a two-wheeled voyageur ogling the gaudy russet wares of a brazen Mother Nature. Just beyond the red and gold treetops, cars and trucks tear by, oblivious to the brilliant display below.
On a bicycle, I can see, smell and hear the autumnscape. The deep, musky smell of parched and withered leaves, the crunch of them under my tires, the rustling above me when the wind picks up. There’s a dry, cloying smell of clay and cement as I ride past a construction site – another condo tower invading the skyline.
Small auburn chipmunks squeak and dart in front of me, high-alert tails straight up in exclamation marks. A tiny brown sand snake wriggles across – I just barely miss him. And then, on the other side of the wire fence, a plump calico cat smells the air, her tawny and white coat blending in against the bronzed weeds.
As I pump away, my hamstrings ache gloriously, and the heat of the afternoon sun warms the back of my neck. It’s late in the day, and a round burgundy bush casts an oblong shadow on the tangled grass, still green – but not for long. As the autumn chill continues its relentless march towards winter, the dramatic Valley foliage will become a memory.
And then, it will be transformed again, into a cold smudged urban tundra …