As she trots down the trail, Aki’s paws make crisp alder leaves crackle and pop. It’s a happy song that matches her mood. She has already played with several dogs and chased a cheeky squirrel. Surprisingly warm temperatures and sunshine have almost lifted my mood to match her’s. But tranforming leaves add a pinch of sadness to the walk. Beautiful with sunlight-enhanced reds, yellows, and gold, their edges already crumble to a winter brown. They remind me that we must pass through the dull, wet days of late fall before being brightened by winter snow.