Pressing our favorite colors

It's the day before Halloween, and today is one of the most beautiful days of the year so far – sunny, cool, breezy, and the leaves popping with colors. The hickories seem especially bright this year, but I may have just forgotten how golden they always glow:

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Several years ago when I was traveling across the hemispheres, I missed out on fall entirely. I went from spring to summer then right back to spring again, and later I wrote a song  about the seasons. One of the lines went, "autumn's arbor ashes rain in yellow, orange and red, and we keep our favorite colors presses in books beside our bed..."

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I was hiking today around the bluff of the plateau and found several book-pressing- worthy colors.  

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When I was a student, I had my mom's copy of Under the Sun at Sewanee, a book of noteworthy hikes and caves in the area. I remember opening the guide at college for the first time and finding leaves my mom had pressed in it, still drying between the pages 25 years later – sassafras, chestnut oak, maple.

I still enjoy pressing leaves. They'll fade and dry out, but it's always a pleasant surprise when opening an old book to find a little piece of the fall again stuck mid-chapter, reminding you that it was autumn at some point and the leaves were bright enough to inspire this one small attempt at preservation.