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Down by the Riverside


Tree Reflections, Paved Trail, Hudson Mills Metropark

     The last Monday of October gave us a sneak preview of what was coming. Cold. Damp. Gray.
     "My favorite Michigan weather," a friend of mine grumbled. "39 degrees and raining."
     The Scots call such weather dreich. "It's pronounced dree-xch," Rev. Derek Webster explained on a preaching website. "You have to gargle the last sound in the back of your throat, '—ahch.' Just saying it, you feel it: Dreich."

     November is my least favorite month. And people know it. My parishioners used to tease me, "Here comes Sondra's annual I-hate-November sermon."
     My father suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a depressive condition brought on by shorter daylight hours. Perhaps I do, too. Like a bear preparing to hibernate, I just want to eat sweets and sleep.
     I always dread the coming dark.
     And yet.
     When I remembered on that Monday how daily hikes helped keep my spirits up during the pandemic last fall, I decided to go for a walk. Even though the sun had already set. When I pulled into the parking lot of Hudson Mills Metropark, there were only two other cars. And they were leaving. I had the whole 2.7-mile paved walking trail all to myself.
     The wet trail shone in the dim light. Feeling smug and protected in my raincoat and rain pants, I strode through the puddles. Unseen leaves rattled over the pavement. Acorns skittered away from my boots. Faintly silver, the Huron River flowed alongside me in the dark.

     I came home happy and glowing warm. Like it says in the old spiritual, I had laid down my burden "down by the riverside." I scrolled through my phone to find this photo from last November. I never would gotten the photo had I stayed home.
     May comfort come to you in the dark.

"Even the darkness is not dark to you." Psalm 139:12 (NRSV)
Play List: "Down by the Riverside," Etta James, Oh Happy Day, 2003

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