A little more than a week ago, Jim and I were sitting around trying to make a variety of plans for the weekends ahead. It’s what you do when you’re an Empty Nester, you know. Suddenly you have all of this time on the weekends because you don’t have kids coming and going at various times: if you don’t make plans to do things, you’re basically just living from meal to meal and that’s no fun at all. Jim and I are all for fun, so we spend lots of time on our calendar of activities.
After a few minutes of silent and individual thinking he said, “You know, if we’re going to get out to Starved Rock to see the fall colors we’ll have to do that in the next two weeks before it’s too late.”
Four things about that:
1. He brought it up like he was adding onto a recent conversation but the idea of going out to Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois (about an hour and ten minutes from our house) had not been previously discussed this year. Or last year. Or the year before last. We hadn’t been there in at least three years. At this point, it wasn’t even on my radar.
2. I am not really an outdoorsy girl, in the sense of camping and the woods. My kind of outdoor activity typically involves a beach. And a lounge chair. And maybe an umbrella drink.
3. Jim, however, LOVES the outdoors, in the sense of camping and the woods. And hiking really is more pleasant for me than an extended stay in a tent and all. I was sure it wouldn’t be so bad. Heck, I thought it might actually be enjoyable. This would be a good opportunity for one of those compromises that are so important in a happy marriage like ours.
4. Fall colors? I LOVE FALL! I LOVE CHANGING LEAVES! GREAT EXCUSE TO SHOOT SOME PICTURES! LET’S DO THIS!
I put a smile on my face and told him that a hike at Starved Rock sounded great.
I checked out the Starved Rock website and discovered that indeed, the next two weeks were supposed to be ideal for the colors. We put it on the calendar for this past weekend.
On Saturday we headed out right after lunch. The drive was scenic and peaceful. We were noticing that most of the leaves around us were still green.
Oh, and it was raining.
“That’s okay,” he said. “I bet the rain will let up before we get there (it did) and maybe even keep some of the crowds away (it didn’t).”
We spent three hours hiking around Starved Rock. Totally true: I enjoyed it. Mother Nature was not ready for us, though: it was a little disappointing to still see so much green. I still got some great shots, though.
I’m always fascinated by exposed tree roots, and at Starved Rock they’re all over the place.
Wildcat Canyon was gorgeous.
Nature collage? Yes, please.
This overturned tree stump looked like, well, a tree stump on our way into one of the canyons. On our way out it looked like a horse so I shot it in black and white. Cool, right? (Right.)
Ugh though, the green. I was really hoping for more gorgeousness in the way of oranges, reds, and yellows. It’s autumn, after all! Then it occurred to me that I should jazz up a shot or two with my Pop Art Filter. Much better (and more fun!).
Of course, I spent lots of time looking at my favorite scenery:
This actual conversation happened when I took that picture:
Me: “Turn away from me. Look over there.”
Jim, turning: “Like this?”
Me: “Yes! Like I’m stalking you, but from far away.”
Jim: “Isn’t that how stalking is done, from far away?”
Me: “Yes, until you get good at it. Then you can stalk up close.”
(Long-time readers will remember that I famously stalked Jim in high school–in a friendly, harmless, teenaged girl kind of way, OF COURSE–which led to our dating and eventual marriage.)
Empty nesting isn’t so bad, you know?