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Nov 4, 2013
I had a good day last week. A good medicine day. You know, one of those “good for the soul” kind of days. October is always a bittersweet month for me. The days noticeably grow shorter and it is not hard to feel the whisper of winter on the wind. I don’t mind winter, but the transition to it always seems to get me down. The Saturday before last, however, was one of the rare, late fall days when the sun was shining, the breeze was light and I had nothing to do but go and explore.
I haven’t had a lot of time between my work schedule and overcast weather to seek out fall color here in the southeastern corner of the state this year. Up until that Saturday, the only good East River fall photograph I was able to capture was taken in Brookings County in the last light of evening after the sun broke through departing rain clouds. That Saturday, however, I was on a quest to find more fall color.
I started at Beaver Creek Nature Area south of Brandon. There I found Allen Severtson harvesting corn with tools of yesteryear, including a 1954 SC CASE tractor. Allen spied me on the road with my camera and motioned for me to come join him. We didn’t harvest much corn where I grew up on the border of Ziebach and Dewey County, but riding with Allen a couple times around the small nine-acre corn field reminded me of when I was a kid and loving riding with my dad in the tractor or combine.
After that trip down memory lane, I made my way to Newton Hills State Park, south of Canton. Hiking along the Big Sioux River on the northeast edge of the park, I discovered some beautifully golden leaved trees hanging their limbs over the edge of the water. Squirrels and birds were still quite active on this late fall day and I even spied dragonflies along the banks.
The next stop was Union Grove State Park, south of Beresford, followed by Adams Nature Preserve near McCook, SD. I saw downy woodpeckers and blue jays while there but was unable to get a decent photo. I decided to head back up the Missouri River. When looking eastward from I-29 I thought I could see the afternoon light glinting on golden bands of cottonwoods near Vermillion.
I wasn’t disappointed. Clay County Park provided wonderful views of the Missouri River framed with fall color. As evening approached, I started making my way to an intriguing unused barn east of Wakonda that I remembered from an earlier trip. On the way there, I drove by beautiful, tall stands of colorful trees south of Gayville. The evening light was perfect. There were high, wispy clouds in the sky above the barn when I got there. What I didn’t realize was that the back wall had a significant hole in it. So when the sun set behind the structure, I could see it clearly through the front opening of the barn. By luck and by being at the right place at the right time, I was able to frame up a unique shot of the barn and setting sun through the two openings. It was a perfect ending to my day.
I’ve learned over the years that days like that don’t come as often as I’d like. I guess it makes it that much more enjoyable when they do. Days like that Saturday have a way of renewing my love for the hobby and life in general, and that alone made the day really good medicine.
Christian Begeman grew up in Isabel and now lives in Sioux Falls. When he's not working at Midcontinent Communications he is often on the road photographing our prettiest spots around the state. Follow Begeman on his blog.