The Path Less Travelled

There’s a certainty to nature, I think to myself as I walk along a trail with my family on Thanksgiving weekend. So many aspects of the outdoors are unpredictable—grey skies can brighten in seconds and, similarly, a sunny day can turn stormy before you even have a chance to produce an umbrella—and yet, something about nature does seem so inevitably grounded in an unchanging reality. Maybe it’s the way that, year after year in the fall, the leaves turn crimson and flutter to the ground; maybe it’s the way I watch the fiery leaves every year at this time with the same awe.

Roots cross the path I walk, creating a kind of haphazard staircase covered in pine needles, fallen leaves and the occasional fern. Massive, mossy rocks line one side of the trail; the sparkling shoreline on the other side is framed by red and orange leaves. It is beautiful, and fleeting, because while the forest hasn’t completely turned to fall—many of the tall trees are still green—in the grand scheme of time I’ll blink and the trees will be skeletons sitting in pools of coloured leaves. But it is in that certainty, that time will pass and the trees will do what they do every autumn, that I find solace as I walk.

Somehow on our afternoon hike, my family and I have traversed off the trail we meant to walk. We planned to take the short route, soak up the scenic sights before heading into town for a bit. But we’re on the longer route now—something we discovered only when we realized that the walk was taking a lot longer than we had thought it would. We laugh about this as we continue walking, past a little waterfall trickling into a stream, past fallen birch trees with white bark.

Nature might be sure of itself, certain that the sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening and life will carry on—but as humans, we aren’t always as certain about our own lives. Sometimes we end up on the wrong path (both literally and figuratively). When this happens, we have to look at where we came from, figure out how we got to where we are and decide where to go next. Because sometimes, we’re actually on the right path—we just, for whatever reason, doubt that it is truly what is right for us.

We’ve all had those moments in life where we feel as if we are standing at a crossroads, looking at two paths, imploring one of them to show itself to us as the correct one to travel down. There is no way to be certain in life that we are going in the right direction—we have to trust ourselves and the decisions we make, and be brave enough to turn back when we’re wrong or forge ahead when we’re right. As poet Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”

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Spring Nostalgia

There is a certain nostalgia, I think, in the way the seasons turn. We revel in the autumn trees, red, orange and yellow like a campfire captured in leaves; then one day the leaves are brown and falling to the ground, leaving us with the memory of the fiery forests that stood what seems like only yesterday. We sometimes forget the true beauty of the season around us—fall leaves, freshly blanketed snow, flowers beginning to blossom or the feverish heat of the summer sun—until the weather shifts and we are left with memories.

This spring I was struck by the simple elegance of the flowers that sprouted around my house. My wonder is nicely summarized in this passage from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: “There is something subversive about this garden… a sense of buried things bursting upwards, wordlessly, into the light, as if to point, to say: Whatever is silenced will clamour to be heard, though silently.” I love those words because they paint flowers as more than delicate pink petals on green flesh. Flowers are a subtle sign of nature’s strength; that a seed can be buried and then grow bravely, deliberately, through the soil and towards the sky.

Back in April, I published a post of photos on a whim; I had just arrived home to find a colourful sky and flowers still with raindrops from a storm. I loved photographing the flowers so much that I continued throughout the spring. Now, although I am enjoying the warm summer weather I find myself missing the bright yellows and painted pinks. In case you, like me, are having a nostalgic moment for the beauty of spring, here are some of my favourite photos of flowers; bursting up, wordlessly, to show themselves to the world, if only until the seasons inevitably turn.

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The Arrival of Autumn

It is fire on the leaves of trees: passionate reds, shining yellows, and burnt browns. It is the air’s cool breath, rustling piles of leaves, and spreading the scent of a fresh start. It is warm drinks in cold hands, and animals preparing for hibernation. “It”is autumn. And “it” is here.

If you asked me what my favourite season is, I would not answer “autumn”. I love summer, with it’s sunny days (and thunderstorms), time for relaxation, and of course, ice-cream (which I do eat when there’s snow on the ground, but still). My next favourite season is spring; I love seeing the flowers and trees bloom, and the weather start to get warmer.

Aside from spring and summer, I don’t usually have many positive things to say about fall and winter. Autumn is a solemn farewell to summer, and a warning of the cold to come; winter is beautiful in some ways, but dreadful in others. I get cold easily, so I’m not jumping up and down about the fact that fall has begun and winter is the next season.

At the same time, though, there is an undeniable beauty in autumn. The aesthetic of the colourful leaves is one aspect of it; the other reason is that while autumn is a season of endings (for the leaves on trees, at least), it is also a season of beginnings. School starts in the fall, so it is synonymous with new beginnings in that way.

Although it’s technically autumn, where I live it has still been fairly hot out recently so it doesn’t really feel like fall. However, at some point it will – and I know that when it does, I will be flooded with memories that will make me smile. For the past couple of autumns, I had started at new schools. Fall makes me remember all of the amazing things that happened in my new beginnings.

In my first year of high school, right in the middle of autumn, Taylor Swift released her album Red. She released 1989 last fall, but Red has always brought back memories of new beginnings for me. In one of my favourite songs from the album, Holy Ground, she sings “I was reminiscing just the other day// While having coffee all alone and Lord, it took me away.”

Whether you enjoy autumn or not, when the leaves on trees start to turn the colours of fire allow yourself to take a moment to reminisce and reflect on the new beginnings you’ve had in your life, and the ones you hope to have. With any luck, you’ll be like Taylor Swift and have your reflections take you away (hopefully to a warm place).

My Blogging Journey

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I visited my favourite place; my cottage. As I marvelled at the beauty of the colourful trees, it struck me how so many things can stay the same when Fall brings so many changes.

A tree across the street from my cottage. Too pretty not to take a picture of!
A tree across the street from my cottage. Too pretty not to take a picture of!

I recently saw a quote on a board outside a church that read ‘If you are adverse to change, look at fall.’  I have found myself thinking a lot about this quote, especially during my time at my cottage.

In the past year, a lot of things have changed in my life; but something that has remained constant is my love for writing. This is perhaps only grown stronger in the past year, as I have pushed myself to write more and explore where my writing can take me. A lot of this exploration was through this blog, and so I thought today I would write about my blogging journey.

It began last September in English Class. My teacher was explaining a semester-long project that we would have, called a Passion Project. As she spoke, my mind immediately jumped to the prospect of writing a blog.

At that point, I didn’t really know what a blog was. All I knew was that my dad had written one, and that it was definitely what I was going to do for my project. I arrived home that day talking a mile-per-minute, and my dad emerged into his office only to come back minutes later with a stack of books about blogging.

After I realized what a blog actually was, I became even more excited. I chose to host my blog on WordPress (an easy decision), but had a lot of trouble choosing a name for my blog. Originally, I wanted ‘Sherina Says’; but now I look back and am glad I decided on ‘Sherina Speaks’.

The header of my old theme. Oh, how times have changed!
The header of my old theme. Oh, how times have changed!

My next decision was choosing a theme. Up until very recently, I kept the same theme. It was called dusk to dawn, and I chose it because my middle name is Dawn.

The background of the theme started out a dark shade of navy blue, and transitioned into various lighter shades of blue before arriving at a light yellow colour. The first time I saw the yellow colour appear as the background to one of my posts, I was terrified. I had no clue the theme did that! I later realized it was called dusk to dawn for a reason.

I like to think of my blogging experience a lot like that theme. At first, everything was new and unfamiliar to me. But then, just as dusk turns to night, and night turns to dawn, things changed for me.

Post by post, follower by follower, I began to see what this whole ‘blogging’ thing was all about. In truth, there’s a lot they don’t tell you about blogging in those books, because like with any art form there are a lot of things that can’t be explicitly expressed about blogging – you just have to find them out for yourself.

If you have just started blogging, or are struggling with any aspect of it, let this be a sign to keep going. Because you might have a few days with no views or dismal statistics; but those days build you up for the better days, where you look at your views and think, “where did all of these come from?!”

The autumn season, to me, is a beautiful reminder of change in a positive sense, and also the fact that while many things can change some things never will. For me over the past year, many positive changes have occurred; but something that I know will never waiver is my love for writing and blogging.

Falling into Fall

Had it not been for my keen, younger sister, and my trusty calendar, I would be totally oblivious to the fact that fall had arrived. I credit my unawareness of the changing seasons to my love of summer and unwillingness to admit that it is over.

As a person who cherishes the warmth of the sun, and detests cold weather, I can definitely say that I was not looking forward to fall, and the chills that it brings.

 Stepping outside, you can almost smell fall in the air, if that makes any sense. And, of course, there are visual reminders of the new season; red, orange and yellow leaves, and the blossoming of flowers such as mums.

 In a way, fall eases us cold–hating folk like me into winter. I suppose I would rather transition gradually from warm to cold, instead of having the temperature drop from 33 degrees Celsius to – 15 in one day.

 Although I have my complaints about fall (and let’s face it; who doesn’t?), I can’t imagine having not having four different seasons. Two months of summer feels short, yes, but can you imagine twelve months of flip – flops and sunscreen? I sure can’t.

 This brings me to my next point, which is this: there are so many things to love about summer. No school (which means no homework), warm weather, swimming, going on vacation, and eating ice cream are a few things that I love about summer. I’m sure that given the opportunity, I could go on for  a long time listing off all of the things I love about summer.

 But I’m not sure I could do the same for fall.

 Okay, I admit; there are some things I like about fall. As I mentioned earlier, I love the way it smells and looks outside, and Halloween is always fun. But in fall, schools starts, it gets colder… oh, and sandflies start to come out.

 I don’t know about you, but I hate sandflies almost as much as I hate cold weather (okay, maybe not that much, but you get the point). I know that they can’t harm you; and really, the size comparison between a sandfly and a human is laughable. But there’s something about those leggy insects that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

 Sandflies are an example of something that I tend to forget about during the year. I only really think about them when fall rolls around, and I can’t leave my house without having to carry a fly – swatter with me. (I’m just kidding, I don’t really do this… but perhaps I should start!)

 I think that sandflies are unnecessary, annoying, and scary; but that’s just my opinion! And that’s the beauty of fall, and really, life; we all see beauty in different things. So while I’m taking a rather pessimistic approach to fall, there are probably people out there who absolutely adore fall. And, come to think of it, there are probably people out there who  -shudder- like sandflies.

 In conclusion, remember to always see both sides of things. Fall can be beautiful and picturesque, but it can also be scattered with sandflies. If you can look past the bugs, cold weather, and raking leaves, you can see the beauty of fall.

 Oh, and by the way… if you think I hate fall, wait until winter comes!


Side note: Thanks for reading! If there is any topic, current event, or quote that you would like to see me write a post on, please let me know in the comments!