Our annual leaf-peeping trip to Moosehead Lake was very special this year. We’d reserved a house we have stayed in before and really enjoy, and were very much looking forward to spending a few days there. As the date for our departure neared, we watched the weather forecast, hoping for sun and mild temperatures.

The Monday we set out, it was cloudy here and a little drizzly. But it was supposed to clear to the west, so we kept our chins up as we got the ATV on the trailer and loaded the car. And did we ever load it! We both tend to overpack a bit, so we each had a heavy suitcase, plus a couple of bags of groceries so we wouldn’t have to visit a store. Then there were apples from the trees in our yard to put out for the deer, extra jackets to be warm while riding, the set of steps Maureen uses to get on and off the trailer, etc. The car looked like we were going to the North Pole for a month.

It was a pretty drive out to Greenville, and sure enough, as we came down Route 6 into town, the sun was emerging from the clouds! We drove to the house and unloaded the car. Before we went out to dinner, I snapped a picture of the sun setting over the lake from the deck.

The next morning began early for me. I got up around 6:30, put on my warm shirt and opened the slider of my bedroom to feed the deer, who were standing there waiting for breakfast. What a magical thing to stay in a place where the deer come often to be fed and are almost half-tame! (The owners of the house have been feeding them for years.)

I picked up an apple and stood just outside the door with it in my open palm. A bold doe came up and took it from my hand. She munched the fruit with relish. I felt like she might follow me back inside if I weren’t careful. A deer in the house would panic and break things, I thought.

So I slipped back inside and got another apple, which the doe again took from my hand, carefully held open so she could take it without biting me. She came right up to the door and hardly cowed when I warned her to stay outside.

A few minutes later I spread some kibble for the deer — there were several standing around in the yard, and I threw some apples out so the others could have some. There was even a beautiful young buck with a small set of antlers and the buds of new ones starting on his head.

The I got into my shorts and T-shirt and went upstairs to the hot tub. The water steamed. It was warm, deliciously so, with the air temperature in the 30s. Unlike other times, it wasn’t too hot, just perfect. The bits of cloud in the west were still pink from the sunrise and the moon was setting over the lake. It was magical. I let the jets run for a while, enjoying the feel of them on a sore spot on my back. Finally, I turned them off and soaked in the peace and silence — the talking of the birds, distant traffic, the light breeze, the golden leaves.

Later, we had a beautiful ride down a favorite trail to a waterfall. The color was spectacular, stupefying, awe-inspiring. The woods were filled with sunlight turned golden by the yellow leaves, and between the trees we saw bits of sky with that blue you only see in autumn. The smell of fall was heady around us.

The next day, we set out to ride and when we reached the entrance to the trail, we saw a pickup truck parked there. Maureen stared at it awhile, then said, “That’s Brian’s truck,” referring to her adult son. And a mile or two down the trail we came upon the young man himself, walking the other way. Maureen had been out of touch with Brian for some time because his work kept him on the road a lot, so we spent 10 minutes or so chatting and catching up. To me, it seemed an amazing coincidence, since Brian had not known we were going to be there. To Maureen it seemed like an answer to prayer. Moosehead is magical indeed.

Sarah E. Reynolds is a former editor of The Republican Journal.