There is beauty this morning in the Troll Woods. I can see it after wiping rain from my glasses. It comes from the rain that coats the reddening leaves with shimmering shellac and forms crystal globes of light on the bottom of high bush cranberries. Aki, a more than willing participant in this adventure, shivers as I study the leopard pattern of a cottonwood leaf that has lodged itself in a tangle of tree moss. She is fine as long as we keep moving, so I try not to stop often.
We cross a young forest, visiting a series of lakes that were formed by men removing gravel from raw glacial moraine. Nature eventually repaired most of the damage. Now salmon smolt and trout hide from merganser ducks in lake reeds and grass. Cottonwoods, alders, and stunted spruce fill the spaces between lakes. We have to keep an eye out for wandering black bears.
The flat light of this gray day dampens the beauty of the yellowing cottonwoods that line the north end of Crystal Lake. They will stun when seen on the next sunny day, as long as an October storm doesn’t strip them bare first.