By Judy Hohmann, contributor

It’s been a worrisome spring and summer ... more than seven months into pandemic living.

Yet, the coming of fall marks harvest season and for the Chineseness in us (regardless of generation or heritage) — a time for joy as the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival approaches. This year, it falls on Oct. 1.

In this year of coronavirus, we can find joy in the beauty of nature and celebrate festival traditions with tastes of mooncake on the trail.

Let’s get started:

Fall Colors 

1. Ooh and ahh Mother Nature’s fall colors

Find joy with a change of scenery with fall color. Warm sunny days and cool, but not freezing, nighttime temperatures break down the chlorophyll process in leaves, masking their green color and revealing brighter colors. Yellow leaves are in white birch. Scarlet red leaves are in oaks, red maples and red sumac. Orange leaves are in sugar maple. Golden yellow leaves are in beech, ash, aspen, some oaks.

Entertainment ColorGraphWhere to go to check out the colors? Try these colorful short and easy hikes*...

Lake Harriet (Bde Unma in Dakota) and Lyndale Park — Minneapolis-- 2.8 miles paved tree-lined loop trail, with native grasses and perennials, annual gardens and wetlands. At the northeast side of the lake is Lyndale Park gardens — in fall, hundreds of wild flowers and pollinator-friendly plants; Roberts bird sanctuary; Peace Garden showcasing Japanese bridge, rocks, crane sculpture.

Como Regional Park—St. Paul--2.3 miles paved trails, 1.67 miles loop trail at Como Lake. Marjorie McNeely Conservatory fea- tures 64’-tall palm house and ferns, 50,000 plants in six indoor (one acre under glass) gardens. Fall chrysanthemums sunken gar- den, bonsai collection. Three outdoor annu- als gardens. Como Zoo, Historic Cafesjian’s Carousel, picnic area, streetcar station.

*Note: Watch for Judy Hohmann’s new book in 2021 on Top 10 city nature trails and their back stories, including the Lake Harriet and Como Park hikes PLUS three bonus trails (one is a North Shore favorite!)

2. Experience two Chinese gardens

By design, Chinese gardens are places for reflection and escape from the outside world — fitting in our current pandemic life. Garden elements feature water (sym- bolizing living, changing nature), stones or rocks (representing strength and stability) and plants (showing beauty and meaning).

Changsha Garden of Whispering Willows and Flowing Waters at Lake Phalen Park in St. Paul

Enter the garden through the Liu Ming Yuan Archway (translation- Willow/Bright Minnesota/ Garden). The breathtaking Xiang Jiang Pavilion (a replica of Aiwa pavilion in sister city Changsha, China) is stone with red pillars and insets, jade green glazed tiles, golden Chinese calligraphy, yellow and white garden rocks. A Hmong Heritage Wall features carvings from Min- nesota and Hunan Hmong in pink granite - reflecting the ancestral home of Changsha

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