Every November around the first or second week, there is that day that gets summer-warm, the one where you walk around in shorts and a t-shirt thinking maybe winter isn’t going to be so bad this year. After that comes that other day in the second week of November, when just yesterday, the leaves were still beautiful on the half-covered trees, and now, overnight, there are suddenly nothing but bare branches against the sky.

Today was that day.

I went over to Miami Whitewater Forest to run the eight-mile paved Shaker Trail, and autumn was just gone. When I pulled into the parking lot in the late afternoon, not a tree around still had leaves, except for a few tiny decorative fruit trees in the landscaping. It was windy and damn cold. The tall forest around the lake was making those black witchy winter fingers against the cloudy sky. I started my run with the thought, “You’re going to have to really look for beauty if you want to find it now.” Which I know is unfair. The  witchy fingers are beautiful, right? On the trail, the fields of wild grasses were brown-grey and drooping down to the ground and knotted up with each other.

On Shaker Trail at Miami Whitewater, November 2009.

Once or twice the sun came out and lit up the white sycamores by the creek like a photo shoot, and again made some funky sun-rays from the clouds down to the earth like those religious paintings of my grandmother that were supposed to be God talking to you. I fought my way against 25-mph headwinds. Driving home, the full moon was a giant at the horizon.

But all I ever want is evenings that last until ten o’clock and the ballgame on every night, and walking out of the house without a jacket. Not heat stroke weather, but a breeze that blows in through the curtains and dew that collects on the grass if you sit in it too late. I want to drive down the road with the sun so high and the green so lush and bursting it looks like the trees and bushes are going to ooze over the side of the road and absorb you into them like an amoeba. This summer, driving on State Route 128 between here and Hamilton, it was exactly like that, and I said to myself, remember this.

This is the day I know that the only way around Winter is through it.