Autumn stayed on schedule Sunday at the Prairie Creek Greenway south of Platte City. A few Virginia creeper leaves blushed crimson and some of the softwood trees bore yellow leaves. Indiangrass and big bluestem grass already have fall rust colors in a delightful prairie restoration area bordering the paved trail. Sometimes when autumn officially arrives on the fall equinox, which was Sunday, summer lingers with a complete grip on plants and weather. This year though, the season’s turn is visible with the best color yet to come. We are privileged to have a trail open to all who wish to hike, jog, ride bicycles and see what’s in bloom in wild places. How nice it is to live in a County with far-sighted leaders, community volunteers and voters who support parks and recreation. I’ve just returned from Lake Placid in upstate New York. While the town is famous for hosting the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, on a daily basis residents are passionate about natural areas, outdoor recreation and preserving a sense of place regarding a town’s architecture. Back home, it’s nice to know we’re not without. Very rarely do I travel down Route N past the Prairie Creek Greenway’s south trailhead without seeing several vehicles in the parking lot. I’m usually on my way to a destination with a deadline, but a part of me always wishes I could pull in and join hikers and joggers on the trail. That’s a key thing about parks in a community. You may not always get to spend as much time in them as you like, but it’s a fine comfort to know they’re in place for future use. Anticipation is a marketable commodity. Companies that offer good jobs to support a local economy look for parks among a community’s assets when they’re figuring out where in the United States to locate a new manufacturing plant or business center. Executives want livable places to locate for themselves and to attract good employees. Park managers in the Lake Placid area enjoy some benefits not available to those who manage green space in Platte County. Head out of town in the right direction and you’re in Adirondack Park, a place with forest preservation as a priority. With more than six-million acres within the protected area — in private and public ownership — it’s like if all of northwest Missouri held park designation. That’s not happening in our corner of the world. But they’ve been at this park business a far longer time in upstate New York. They began talking about an Adirondack Park right after the Civil War and made it so by the 1880s. Platte Countians didn’t start getting serious about parks until the 1980s. One advantage for the Adirondacks is that the woodlands are strewn with boulders and rock. Tillable acres are the exception. Over-harvest of timber was once a problem. But the woodlands grew back among the rocks. Here, the prairie interspersed with bur oak trees vanished never to return. Except, head north of the south trailhead of Prairie Creek Greenway and you’ll see tall grasses mixed among the goldenrod, sunflowers and partridge pea. Signs along the trail mark it as a prairie restoration. Most people have never seen prairie so the signs must explain the thick growth. Prairie restoration is a work in progress. Native grassland can be quickly destroyed, but returning a natural mix of grasses and wildflowers takes time. What is there now is worth the walk and a peek of history not readily available elsewhere in the County. There are people who would prefer to live in a county with few public parks and more pavement, strip shopping centers and tall buildings. They would rather green space be more the domain of those who can afford to live in gated communities that keep regular people out. Platte County voters have chosen otherwise, twice. I’ll offer one history note, since we’re observing the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Historian W.M. Paxton referred several times in his Platte County history to the activities in Kansas of abolitionist John Brown. A broadsword was Brown’s weapon of death in the Bleeding Kansas years along the border before the War. One of his homes and his burial site is outside Lake Placid. We don’t know if Brown set foot in Platte County on his way to Kansas. But we do know County residents argued and even fought for both sides of the slavery question. Our history is tied to the nation’s past. I’m glad we have County and City parks advocates using nature and history to build bridges to our future.