Change. This is what is striking my attention most repeatedly today.

I come to the riverside, and the whole river front is transformed. Naked is the way I would describe the area now, quite naked, compared to the way I saw it just two weeks ago.

The hundreds of green ash saplings stand completely bereft of leaves. Heavy winds during the last week have denuded them of the brown leaves that hung plentifully upon them at that time.

The giant American elm, under which I sit, reaches down its bare branches like witches’ broomsticks. Only a few of the very lowest branches still cling to a few brown leaves.

Not only am I experiencing the seasonal change that comes with autumn, but I am also experiencing the daily change that comes with the earth tipping its horizon more nearly to the sun, and allowing the sun to pass more quickly our of sight in what we call sunset. And that is not all about this kind of change.

That daily development has been exacerbated by the addition of our own wisdom day light savings time. This is the human’s attempt to jiggle his fictional time measurement called the hour to make it fit more comfortably into his daily routine. Daylight savings time has been added to the change since I was here two weeks. Sunset has now happened.

However, the most remarkable experience of change I have enjoyed earlier today was a conference call with Morris Ward, environmental journalist from Yale, and my daughter, Julie Marchel, devoted enthusiast on climate change. This lifts the subject of change out of the realm of time into the very realm of earth’s evolution.

Those two are enthusiasts on the subject of environmental change, and they are gradually stirring my interest in the subject. I’ve only lived three generations upon this earth, and I have tended to focus upon changes like day and night, and summer and winter. But give me time, and perhaps I too shall sense the oceans lapping at my doorstep, and shall lift my focus to include environmental change.

Meanwhile, the day has changed to night, and I continue with an artificial light, a lamp. Mars appears in the eastern sky, and Venus has already traversed to the southern sky. The night is dark and beautiful, and starlight is reflected on the Red River. The full moon has not arisen yet, but perhaps if I waited long enough I would see it arise in the east across the river.

Before the darkness closes down, a common nighthawk sailed on the up drafts of air currents high above the river. He is hunting, I am sure, but at the same time he is enjoying a very delightful warm autumn evening. And, as if to second that enjoyment, I saw a small black butterfly flit across my line of vision, and light upon a blade of grass.

James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.


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