Can’t Help It — I Just Love Autumn!

An October View of West Bay from Chateau Grand Traverse
An October View of West Bay from Chateau Grand Traverse

By MIKE NORTON

Man, I love the fall!

The other night, I took a long walk out to Leffingwell Point, near the end of the Old Mission Peninsula, just to watch the evening light hanging over the still harbor as the lights went on, one by one, in the houses across the water.  I could smell woodsmoke and apples in the air, and hear the gentle lapping of small waves on the stony beach. And yes, it was a little melancholy – but in a GOOD way.

That made me wonder about all the other people who seem to feel the same way. By now, it’s no secret that Traverse City is one of Michigan’s favorite summer playgrounds, but autumn brings a different kind of traveler to this land of dunes, lakes and forests. This is a gentler, more romantic season — a time of crisp clear mornings, mellow golden afternoons and cool, lingering evenings. The summer crowds have vanished with the heat, the hills are ablaze with sheets of crimson, gold and orange color, and all that enchantment can be enjoyed at a slow and leisurely pace.

Autumn seems to sharpen the beauty of this wonderful place, adding color to the hills and valleys, mystery to the endless beaches and spice to the fragrant air — perfect weather for a stroll on the beach, a small-town shopping adventure, or a tasting tour of our beautiful wine country. Who cares if it’s too cool for swimming? With more than 150 inland lakes and hundreds of miles of Lake Michigan shoreline (including the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore) Traverse City offers almost limitless opportunities for boating, sailing, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. (And I’m continually surprised at how many good sunbathing days there can be in a Traverse City autumn!)

The Lake Michigan Beach south of Empire (Yes, it's October!)
The Lake Michigan Beach south of Empire (Yes, it’s October!)

But this is the time of year I like to do some hiking, because Traverse City is surrounded by deep, fragrant forests that are crisscrossed with trails for hikers, horseback riders and cyclists. Even the farms here are surrounded by incredible scenery, built on rolling glacial hills and surrounded by sheets of deep blue water – and everybody seems to have their pumpkins and squash and apples piled up at roadside stands along the highway. (I didn’t even mention the wineries, did I? What is so wonderful as the taste of a crisp Pinot Grigio on a warm October afternoon, with all the beauty of Grand Traverse Bay spread out around you?)

It won’t last much longer, of course. Soon winter will be here, and winter has cozy charms of its own. But for now I intend to wring every bit of sweetness out of this autumn. What an amazing time to be alive and in Traverse City!

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About mikelovestc

These days, I’m the media relations guy for the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, but before that I spent 25 years as a reporter and columnist at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, a job that frequently took me out into the most remote backroads, forests, beaches and islands of the beautiful Grand Traverse Region. My strategy was pretty simple — just drive, paddle, ski or walk until you’re certain you’re lost, and then find somebody to talk to. It was a great job! I never intended to live in Traverse City. I grew up in Grand Rapids, spent four years in the Coast Guard in places like Miami Beach, Monterey and San Francisco, and when I finally graduated from college I took a summer job at the Miami Herald. To my surprise, I discovered I didn’t like the tropics nearly as much as I thought I would — and when the Record-Eagle offered me a job I took it, figuring I’d put in a year or two and head off to someplace like Seattle or Portland. What I discovered very quickly is that this place gets to you in a variety of unexpected ways. The beaches here are as lovely as anyplace else I’ve ever been, the weather is mild all year round — warm enough for swimming in September and cold enough for skiing in December — and just about the time you’re getting tired of one season you get another one every bit as pleasant. The people are laid-back and friendly, the music and arts scene is awesome, and the place still hasn’t gotten so sophisticated that a guy like me feels out of place.
This entry was posted in Fall, Food & Drink, Sleeping Bear and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Can’t Help It — I Just Love Autumn!

  1. Patt says:

    Perfectly stated!! And so very true!

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