The scent was overpowering, and it took me by surprise.
There I was, out for a run in Law Park near Monona Terrace, where I often trot in the early evening. I was listening to the radio, as I usually do, and dodging bicyclists and anglers on the path, as I usually do.
And then suddenly there it was, a cheerful reminder that our planet is tilted on its axis and rotates around the sun, and that the seasons of the year therefore majestically proceed, the one from the other: A gnarled apple tree full of beautiful apples, in full autumn ripening.
On the ground all around lay hundreds of apples, in various states of decay. They filled the air with that marvelous, unmistakable aroma, the one that reminds me of apple-bobbing at Halloween and apple pie at Thanksgiving. Happily eating the apples were ducks, who probably had been looking forward to this all year.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that foods are seasonal. If it's apples you crave, you can go to any supermarket any day of the year and buy some, shipped from goodness knows where. But apples really do come in the fall, and for those of us lucky enough to have an apple tree handy, they're as unmistakable a sign of this lovely, bittersweet season as wool sweaters and the rustle of leaves on the ground.
I hope the ducks eat their fill of apples. I also must be careful not to step on one when I'm running.