A moral obligation

I stay off Interstate 81 at all costs. My reward the past few weeks has been some of the most beautiful fall foliage ever.
I don’t know about you, but it had seemed to me the leaves would never begin to turn color this year. But when they finally did, man, was the wait worth it.
They’re past prime now, of course, and after today’s rain and wind, mostly on the ground. But I enjoyed them to the hilt while I could.
Not that there aren’t beautiful leaves to be seen from Route 81. There are. But at 70 miles an hour, with everyone passing me, I cannot enjoy them. In fact, I cannot enjoy anything, even my own thoughts. But by foregoing the interstate for side roads, I am rewarded with peace of mind and plenty of opportunity to enjoy my surroundings.
When I tell people I do not take Route 81 from Pittston, where I live, to Nanticoke, where I teach at the community college, they typically think I’m crazy. That’s okay. The route I travel is relaxing and takes no more than five minutes longer than the highway.
And when the trees are flaming, as they have been, well, that’s just a bonus.
My route takes me southward on the Pittston By-Pass, through Inkerman and Plains, onto North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, around Public Square and onto South Main Street, into Hanover Twp. to Middle Road to the college.
There are beautiful trees everywhere I look and downright spectacular ones in certain spots. Some I encounter early are near the entrance to Wesley Village in Inkerman. Then there’s the view off to my right as I continue toward Plains.
The best part, though, is when I cross Blackman Street and start into Hanover. Red and bright orange trees line both sides of the street and at one point, two dazzling red trees reach over the road and touch each other creating a spectacular under which I drive.
The visual treat picks up again at St. Mary’s Cemetery and along the perimeter of Wyoming Valley Country Club and comes to a crescendo when I reach the grounds of the college.
Henry David Thoreau said, “The perception of beauty is a moral obligation.” My drive to the college in autumn makes it an easy obligation to fulfill.

Ed Ackerman