The First Day of Fall

The first day of fall in North Dakota. The calendar says it happens at the same time every year, but the truth is much different. In North Dakota, by the time fall officially arrives, the leaves have already been falling for weeks, accumulating into entrancing swirls of yellow and red. The air gets brisk and has a refreshing smell.  And the change in temperature signals a new season about to begin. Homeowners decorate their property in the colors of the season. Pumpkins appear on doorsteps. Halloween will soon be upon us. Unfortunately, like fall, winter will probably be upon us prematurely. The first snow will likely be on the ground before the calendar announces winter’s official arrival.  But for now, it’s autumn.

Today was the first day of fall. And as I took a leisurely road trip to photograph some abandoned places, I encountered a problem with my camera. A battery that appeared full before I left was mysteriously dead when I tried to snap a few photos. I had driven two hours only to have my camera malfunction. Dejected, I turned around and headed for home.

Somewhere along the way, I decided it was a terrible waste to come so far to leave empty handed, so instead of getting on the Interstate, I chose another path. South of Manvel, North Dakota, I took a little used road I had never traveled before. As the road veered away from the highway, I found myself on a gravel road in between fields of corn.  Soon, the road narrowed. I crossed an intersection and the road changed from gravel to black dirt. A sign read “Minimum Maintenance Road.” I hesitated to continue. Would the quality of the road hold out, or would I be forced to turn back?

I came to a spot in the road where it widened ever so slightly. I could see very little in the distance due to the height of the corn. I pulled to the side of the road and got out. It was quiet. I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture of the trees next to the road. As I was about to leave, something spoke to me. Just try your camera again. Maybe the battery… rejuvenated itself, or something. I grabbed my camera and rotated the switch to ‘On.’ The battery bar which had shown one bar just two hours before, not even enough juice to activate the shutter, now showed ‘Full.’ Without hesitation, I turned and snapped the photos below in full auto mode, afraid the battery would give out. It didn’t.

I don’t know what happened with the battery.  I chalk it up as a mystery.  I gave some thought to all the places I passed by because I thought my battery was dead.  I wondered whether I would have found myself in this place at all if the battery had been working.  Probably not.  And I would have never taken these photos.  The beautiful colors of the first day of fall in North Dakota.  Sometimes things just happen, and I’m not about to ask why. Enjoy the season.

Photos by Troy, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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9 thoughts on “The First Day of Fall

  1. Just beautiful. My husband and I were in Merricourt this summer to check out some property he owns there. I was amazed by the skies in ND. The clouds seem so close and the blue is such a gorgeous shade.


  2. Great story Troy! I have been down a number of those roads that keep getting narrower and looking more and more like they will just turn into a cornfield. They have led me to some very interesting pictures 🙂


  3. Beautiful photos and beautiful words. Often our personal “batteries” go on low and we need to get off the beaten path and refresh ourselves in nature and time in prayer. Good sermon on this Sunday morning. Thank you for both..


  4. Again and again your pictures stir up feelings of long ago….and most certainly remind us of the places and events that shaped our lives in North Dakota before we might have moved on to other far away places. Thanks.


  5. I would like to make a contribution to Ghosts of North Dakota, or to the proposed book, but do not like to do so electronically. If you will provide a mailing address(snail mail), I will send you a check. Jim Malecki


    1. Jim,

      Thank you so much. In order to claim one of the rewards for a pledge to the book project, the pledge needs to be an electronic transaction online at the Kickstarter link.

      However, if you’re not concerned with claiming a reward and you would just like to make a donation to the project, you can send it to:

      Sonic Tremor Media LLC
      PO Box 6484
      Fargo, ND 58109-6484

      Thank you so much for your interest in!


  6. Troy, these are great shots. I first read about North Dakota in National Geographs. I was saddend at first reading and looking at the pics the things that were left in the abonded houses. At one time these things were meaninful to someone. Now they are just junk left behind. But, I can’t stop looking at reading more about these towns. I’m planing a trip to Dakota to take some pics of my own.
    Keep up the great work


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