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Boreal Community Media

Days of Brazen Color: an essay by local author John Bragstad

Oct 04, 2023 11:03AM ● By Content Editor
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By local author and writer John Bragstad for Boreal Community Media - October 4, 2023

The day was delirious; fall colors from red maple and golden aspen 
mixed with the muted greens of the pine. It was a day of splendor, 
driving the abbreviated backroads among the hills. Later, the 
breezes would toss and scatter the leaves, but today, it was all 

Sometimes, life can be frenetic, alive with splendid colors that don’t
match our experience. It is more than “enough.” It is electric. Gazing
up into the sun-swelled trees, such experiences dwarf the routine
days that linger throughout summer.

Then, days are beautiful but not like this. With that first tinge of frost
in the air, things come out of solstice to peak in the hollows and
along the crest of the hills.

I have been told we are still determining why leaves lose chlorophyll.
What is most interesting to me is that the blaze of colors we see are
the tree’s true colors. Summer masks this and hides it. But with the
approach of winter, conditions allow the branches and leaves to
reveal themselves.

In retirement, I think about transformation while walking the paths,
portages, and open spaces of the canoe country. Here, in this red
and yellow explosion, auburn, scarlet, and vermillion, there is no self
deprecation. As the days darken, it is as though the trees take one
last great swing for the fences.

They become genuinely what they are. While their time is brief, it is
well-lived, and they go out holding nothing back.

Adapted from Compass Season

About the author

John A. Bragstad has been a therapist, working with couples and individuals, for 25 years. He is self-published and is enjoying retirement. Lake Superior is just off his front porch.

He has written three books: Compass Season, Loon Laughter at Midnight, and Who's Watching Whoo? They are available in Grand Marais at Drury Lane and Lake Superior Trading Post, or at

Related: Meet your Boreal Community Media Freelance Journalist: John Bragstad