Today was a drizzly, grey day; too wet to be comfortably out on the lake, but perfect for driving the road to the remote boat ramps at DFSP. Having passed it hundreds of times, I finally made this drive upon the suggestion of my friend and mentor, Kay Wade. She had said that the fall colors were so exquisite there as to be “almost painful”. I drove the long tunnel of what felt like miraculous color as slowly as possible, drinking in the richness and subtlety of hues somehow popped into contrast by the dull grey skies and glistening evergreens of pine, mountain laurel, rhododendron, and clubmoss. There was a thread connecting her words to my experience. It was literally breathtaking, as in my breath was taken away, with a whisper of heartache in there somewhere. And then I remembered the Japanese concept of “mono no aware”, pronounced “mono no ah-wah-ray, which I learned watching Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo. This film is an entrancing documentary about the Japanese and their millennia-long love affair with insects. Mono no aware suggests that “true beauty is found in that which does not last and includes the gentle sadness felt as it fades”. There it was. I had found the thread, spanning time, a vast ocean, and very different cultures; the thread that connects us all. As the film so beautifully concludes, “all of life and nature is cohesive. All of its imperfections, all of its fleeting beauty is part of a whole.” That whisper of heartache I felt was indeed based on an awareness that I might drive that same glorious road tomorrow and tonight’s rain will have pounded all of those jewel-toned leaves to the forest floor. Luckily, here in the Gorges, we have over 90 species of trees (as opposed to the 6 species that factor in New England’s famed fall!), many of which drape the Jocassee Lake landscape every autumn in a tapestry of vivid, sometimes incandescent color. Imagine that thread weaving through the reds of dogwoods as they deepen to brown, piercing through sourwoods that vibrate from bright red to pink, pricking through the oranges of maples, the golden of hickories, locusts, and walnuts, weaving in the purples of black tupelo --- more trees and colors too numerous to list! Ripple after ripple, like a tapestry of beauty, however brief, being shaken, spreading out over the land and coming to rest, finally, in the browns and greys of winter. And so I sleep tonight, like the winter, resting in the peace that I have witnessed a spectacle; a spectacle that, although soon to fade, will return again next year. ~ Creseda Riccardi, JLT Guide