October skies are the best – at least this year certainly. I pause, enjoying the beauty around, framing the scenes I want into my lens eye, struggling to get my camera to capture what my eye sees, to capture what my heart feels knowing well that it is just a toy, my camera I mean. I think of another walk not so long ago, about a couple of miles which took me a couple of hours as I stood enjoying the scenery watching people walk by – some talking, some pausing to enjoy the serenity, others simply walk by as if they are on a mission and some others click a quick picture of what is so beautiful and breathtaking. As I walk on the fallen leaves, I hear the rustling and it sounds so loud and melodious to my own ears. Even in the noise of my own boots, I hear a squirrel or two, run by, run up a tree with whatever they are gathering getting ready to hibernate. As I continue the walk, I see a lonely jeep making a turn into the colorful street. The contrast of a moving vehicle in the stillness of nature feels surreal but certainly beautiful. I look around me, stand still and listen - certainly, a beautiful day to be out and about. I hear little boys screaming, perhaps fathers playing ball with their sons. Firepits must be burning the dry leaves filling the air with the smell of smoke making me want to cozy up and enjoy the cold and the lovely colors with a loved one. As I continue to walk, I watch dogs chasing one another in the yards, some yards prettied up for families to hang out, little kids racing by on their bikes, families walking with their strollers, not to forget the yards decorated either for Halloween or fall. I am happy to see the decorations – some trying to be scary, some pretty and, yet others undecided despite all the political signs crying for attention. I walk around the streets admiring the houses taking pictures. The world seems to be going on – the beautiful colors only that original painter can paint, animals perhaps getting ready for hibernation, people trying to find joy in their surroundings. As much as intelligence can lay there in its perfect stillness, it seems to come alive only because of our imagination - reminding me of the word Ubuntu – I am because we are! Finally, I come to the yard with a “fairy garden”. Talking with the owner on my earlier walks, I had learnt that her husband had decided that with so many people out and about, it would be wonderful to enjoy something – different. Hence the little display that gets people to stop and admire and sometimes make new friends. My spirits are on a high. I am excited. There is something in the air, yes that Halloween spirit, the upcoming elections spirit too but there is also that feeling of hope with that Indian festival coming up. I am all excited to set up my dolls. I know this year is different. Perhaps it can bring in the much-needed introspection, much needed pause and, a true need to do something because I enjoy doing it. It is certainly wonderful to have friends visit, all dressed up in their best, hopping from house to house - what's a festival if it is not celebrated with the community? But it is also wonderful just to know that it may not be that festive this year, yet life and living must be celebrated. I am looking forward to enjoying setting up the steps in the solitude of the night. All the boxes have been moved up. Opening the boxes always holds surprises As I unpack one doll after another, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. I cannot wait to set up the dolls for the festival. DH watching tv is also watching my bursts of excitement at my find – my SIL has been gracious enough to send some much need dolls from India last year. I complete the arrangement and am pleased. I realize all creativity is not for posterity, like the rangoli that we make in front of our doorstep, do it for the joy of it only to be erased and redone. The joy that comes from that can only be experienced. Even as I try lighten up and stay present, I am aware that perhaps there is not even one person amongst us who has not heard some upsetting news or the other in the recent past. But we must keep moving on – this too shall pass as we continue to learn to live in the present. Staying indoors, we are constantly fed with information of what we may not have chosen, if we don’t make deliberate choices. Let us continue to spread cheer any which way we can and here I begin with the pictures on which this snippet is based! Please fill this space up with pictures of nature and/or golu. Brighten my day!