A grudging, minuscule appreciation yields rewards

by lachicaruns on

The weather was a bit chilly when I left our campsite and the ground was littered with golden leaves. I’ve been here many times before but usually not in late October when just the heartiest of campers — and duck hunters — make the trek to South Higgins Lake State Park in Roscommon.

Just this summer I enjoyed the beautiful trails on Marl Lake across the street from the state park, which for some reason inspired a 12 Days of Christmas-themed blog post. As I headed to the trail head, I saw a photographer, his camera lens trained on swans swimming near the shore. I smiled and picked up the pace only to stop in my tracks by the display behind the birds.

The same sky that had prompted me to figuratively shake a fist in its direction for dumping buckets of rain on our RV the day before was showing off with white, fluffy clouds back-lit in shades of gold and orange.

Marl Lake, Roscommon, Michigan

Marl Lake in Roscommon, Mich.

I paused for a moment but quickly continued, alert for the sounds of the white-tailed deer I spotted just minutes before since being hit by a deer while running on trails is apparently a thing.

Spotting no deer in the vicinity, I picked up my pace and focused on the trail in front, taking quick, darting peeks at the lake on my left. My feet made crunching sounds as I stepped on a thick layer of pine needles and leaves shed by the almost-barren trees around me.

lachica merl lake trail

My pace slowed as I picked my way through the root-iest (yeah, that’s now a word) areas of the trail, avoiding anything that could lead to a twisted ankle.

Watch out for tree roots while running on the Marl Lake trails.

Watch out for tree roots while running on the Marl Lake trails.

Thankfully, some of the larger roots were moss-covered and easier to avoid.

Tree roots in Marl Lake shown here covered in moss.

And then, Christmas.

I caught a very faint smell of something sweet as I neared a grove of firs. The scent magnified as I neared, giving me the feeling of having walked into December and momentarily making me forget my frozen hands. That’s when I spotted what I can only call a Charlie Brown sapling.

This sapling reminded me of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.

I smiled once again and inhaled, enjoying the treat while it lasted.

The rest of the run was just as enjoyable and I chose to turn around halfway through the loop just to run through this area again. Thankfully, it didn’t snow.

I’ve often complained about fall in the 25-plus years I’ve lived in the Michigan tundra. I’ve always seen it as a time when everything around me dies and have seen no reason to join the chorus of fall-loving adoration. But as I spend more and more time outside, I’m feeling a glimmer of appreciation for its beauty.

I had just grudgingly reached this conclusion when I rounded the corner and saw another autumn display worthy of photographing.

lachica merl lake horizontal lake shot

A fall Christmas gift of sorts for this summer-loving chica.

What’s your favorite season? Do you have any favorite trails you like to run in during the fall?


Written by: lachicaruns

My name is Gisgie. It's pronounced geese (like the birds) and gee (like the letter). Now that we've met, I'm glad you're here. I'm an injury-prone runner who manages to find reasons to keep coming back to the road despite ongoing challenges. Most recently, I've struggled with piriformis syndrome. I'm currently winning. Most days.


Sue Nichols

Ah, I grudgingly am with you, Chica. I, too, am not a natural fall lover (even though I’m a native). I mean IT ALL IS DEATH. But this year is different, and thank you for putting to words the upside of this kind of fall.

Keep moving, my friend.


It’s really the first fall where I’ve felt this way. I don’t know if it’s because I’m outside more or because the weather has been so much better than in my recent memory.

Plus, hello???, trails. Love ’em.

Thanks for agreeing with me, however grudgingly. I feel your pain.


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