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Posts Tagged ‘Autumn’

While waiting for needed input on a number of projects yesterday, I decided to take the walk I’d been putting off. It was sunny and crisp, and even in mid-afternoon, with the shorter days, the light was angling through the trees and casting long shadows.

Ornamental grasses flanking a walkway sport their furry blooms. Many trees in the area have lost the majority of their leaves.

Long shadows are cast by an already lowering sun.
In the background, a sparkling river moseys south.

Something new for me when I moved to this side of the state was the concept of rural delivery. The postal carrier does not bring mail to the mailbox by your front door, but instead leaves it in mailboxes which stand alone or in groups at the edge of properties and driveways. Certainly makes sense considering how much of this area is farmland!

My town was initially established in the mid 18th century, a mill town on the river, but was not officially incorporated with its current name until 1925. It went through many names, among them Burnt Mills after the grist mill was destroyed by fire in 1769. Many older buildings grace the town, this one (I’m estimating late 1800’s) is converted to a barber shop and residence.

Trees along the riverbank holding on to the last of their leaves.

Looking north, the Delaware is a sea of calm. Whether due to rain or the extended warmth of much of the fall season, there were not many of the brilliant oranges and reds to be found among the trees this year. Instead, the green leaves seemed to fade to dull yellows and browns.

A group of Canada geese swim, relax, and feed at the edge of the riverbank.

An oak leaf on the textured concrete bridge path looks both crisp and leathery. It’s shadow seems to have another life altogether, something insectile.

A train once connected Phillipsburg about 1/2 hour north of my town all the way south to Lambertville, paralleling the river. The tracks were recently cleared and maintained to allow a train to travel several miles for fun trips for passengers at an annual event. The mournful whistle of the steam engine could be heard for two days, and then on occasion afterward.

Walking with my camera always opens my eyes to my surroundings, and causes me to be very grateful to live where I do – an older, established community with a long history, and where people still are gracious and kind.

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As the summer has ambled on, turning gently into the 40’s and 50’s at night, certain of the flowers and shrubs begin to lose their color, their energy to stand tall, their vibrancy. Such is the case each year with the beautiful snowball hydrangeas (as I call them.) They produce huge balls of snow white flowers in the spring which turn to the softest lime green as summer glides through. In late August, the canes bend low to the ground, and the once white snowballs now begin to turn to rust and copper. This is what I observed in the garden that surrounds my back porch.

And then, about a week ago, a herald appeared – a new, small white snowball. The temperatures had not gotten warmer; in fact, cooler nights had arrived when it bloomed. I am enchanted. And somehow heartened, as if a messenger of hope had appeared in the midst of so much worldly turmoil. The leaves of this large plant are drooping, crumbling at the edges, yet bright and tall stands a youngster in their midst. So I thought to photograph this resistor of cold nights, this affirmer of life among his fellow snowballs, who slowly yield to the coming of fall.

The snowball hydrangeas look equally magnificent as they dress for fall, slipping gradually into their new and deep copper attire.

I am a believer in signs and synchronicity (which people often refer to as “coincidence” or “accidents”). I can’t be sure what message this lovely upstart is meant to bring, if any, but it brought me a renewed wonder in nature and her whims; a small feeling that anything is possible; and a smile every time I look at it. And that’s quite enough.

I did not go on my brief photographic venture alone. I was joined by Pumpkin, who lives next door, and who thought to also enjoy the simple wonders of a sunny morning.

 

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FoggyMorning

Nature XXVII, Autumn

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

~ By Emily Dickinson

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It has been a lovely Fall so far … crisp, sunny days with a light chill at night, not quite cold enough to turn on the heat, but chilly enough to warrant a warm blanket or quilt.

MorningWalk-Rhodendron2

MorningWalk-RedBarn2

On morning walks the leaves seem to whisper that no matter how green they are now, they soon will be slipping into golds, crimsons and pale, dusky rose.

MorningWalk-FallPorch2

Pumpkins and mums announce the onset of Fall, and the river glides lazily towards the sea, resplendent surrounded by her last-of-summer greens.

MorningWalk-River2

The smile that flickers on baby’s lips when he sleeps — does anyone know where it was born? Yes, there is a rumor that a young pale beam of a crescent moon touched the edge of a vanishing autumn cloud, and there the smile was first born in the dream of a dew-washed morning.   ~ Rabindranath Tagore

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, to me, is always the epitome of fall … glorious foods in colors and flavors of autumn grace the table, there still may be some tawny leaves on the trees, and just the right chill in the air. It’s the last major holiday before our thoughts turn to snow and Christmas, trees and gift-giving. Thanksgiving seems the culmination of fall, and then a whirlwind of different flavors and colors surrounds us.

We sometimes have to be careful that in our anticipation of great dinners and watching football and Thanksgiving Day parades that we don’t lose why the holiday was so named, a day to give thanks. I thought a few words from those who’ve pondered this holiday might be in order …

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.  ~Meister Eckhart

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal.  It’s a way to live.  ~Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

If you count all your assets, you always show a profit.  ~Robert Quillen

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.  ~G.K. Chesterton

Gratitude is the music of the heart, when its chords are swept by the breeze of kindness.  ~Author Unknown

HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING!

 

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The Joy of Images

One of my friends laughs at me when he stops by and looks at my computer. Why? Because my desktop is always different.

For the same reason that I have at least 6 calendars around the house, I change my desktop daily or have images rotating on an hourly basis. And usually on a theme. It’s a continual art show, and for whatever reason, it makes me happy. Right now, not surprisingly, my desktop theme is fall, and here is one of my favorite images from the photo folder of the same name.

Because my mind seems already primed to want to look at beautiful images, and I’ve spent a fair amount of my life engaged in photography, I am also quick to grab fantastic photos,  (copyright free, of course), and squirrel them away. But it’s not as time-consuming as it sounds. It’s really more of a drive-by kind of experience.

I have folders on all kinds of subjects. The only one that is potentially problematic is food. When I have that dark chocolate bark with almonds on my desktop … well, you can only imagine what happens.  Mmmmm … maybe I’ll put that up tomorrow.

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Even before the leaves surrender their greens for red and gold, there are other changes afoot – creatures prepare for the coming winter, some rallying in their final efforts to survive before their lives slowly wind down to a natural end.

Each year in this house I watch an orb-weaving spider weave a large and complex web over the top half of a kitchen window.

It doesn’t seem a very auspicious spot, as her prey would need to be flying through the web to the glass not even a half inch behind. Yet each year, through some species memory I can’t possibly understand, a spider builds her web here. She catches an occasional small insect, and each night rebuilds her web. With temperatures becoming chillier and less prey about, she becomes weaker from lack of food. With less silk to spin, her web becomes less detailed until at last, the strands are a broken tangle of fine thread, a shadow of her once articulated masterpiece. And then she is gone.

I found myself watching her, in quiet awe of her determination to survive in spite of the reality of colder nights and imminent death. Some lesson in life for me, no doubt.

Perhaps a week or so after the spider’s web had disappeared, a seemingly small monster – from this side of the glass – cast a large shadow in the same window. A Chinese praying mantis. Where had he come from? Last year, a green praying mantis hung out all season on or around my office window, where we had several conversations and a few photo shoots. But I’d never seen the larger and brown Chinese mantis since I’ve lived here. He did his monster shadow for the morning, and then flew about my front and side porches in the awkward way they do, like a helicopter with a broken blade. No doubt he was scouting out a last meal as well. He, too, soon disappeared.

As we moved into late October, anticipating Halloween, temperatures dropped, moisture gathered and froze, and suffocated the clinging leaves, dropping trees like so many sticks.

It was unexpectedly beautiful, but deadly, and the sudden snowstorm rolled long nights over the state, especially in my area. Halloween evening arrived and bundled children with chilled parents came from other towns to ours; they still had no power, but happily, here we all had our porch lights on, tombstones eerily lit, and plenty of candy.

I took a drive around my area the following day, where the severity of the damage was evident. It looked like a war zone. Barricades and closed roads were everywhere, but so much worse was the devastation of the trees. Magnificent elders had split and cracked like twigs, graceful limbs lay on the ground. It was heartbreaking.

And then, another sign of determination – the leaf which will not fall.

Many of the taller shrubs and a fair amount of surrounding trees still have quite a bit of their leaves. This tree? Only one stubborn leaf remains. I wonder did he win a contest this year with some other now-fallen leaf who could finally hold on no longer. Or is he a tall scout, updating the lower shrubbery on how advances the autumn. Or perhaps he’s simply the last man standing.

And then this morning … a thick autumn fog. It couldn’t have looked more lovely, an invitation to be lost for just a little while. I could have stayed until the sun shone through. But such is not my life.

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Indian Summer

November 15 … 66 degrees with an amazing sunset.

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Autumn is on her own schedule. She seems to pay no mind to temperatures, to incoming storms; she just pulls out her paints and brushes, and in her own time gently strokes the trees with gold, oranges, crimson and amber. Here, just 2 days later, is the same tree that appears in my last post.

Home-Across2

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