A Golden November Day

Sun with no clouds, sixty-three degrees and a light breeze.  Well, you can’t stay in on a day like that.  Camera Girl and I took a walk in the woods today.  We haven’t since September.  It was quiet.  Then we saw why.  The streams that came off of the big lake had dried up.  The spillway from the lake was dry.  November hasn’t been completely without rain but the number of heavy rain days has drastically lowered from previous months.  So, it was quiet and that was fine.  Sun filtered more easily through the trees with only the conifers green.  We talked about the menu for Thanksgiving and we talked about leaves to be raked.  We noticed that none of the few people in the forest we met wore masks and I said that was a good sign.  She told me that very few people in the supermarket wore masks and most of those were elderly.  And I said that sounds good.  But before we knew it we were back at the car.  Just a short hour’s walk, up and down a few hills in the woods.  But it was a fitting tribute to God for gifting us a day this bright and warm, a week before Thanksgiving in New England.

 

AUTUMN (by Aleksandr Pushkin) (translated by Peter France)

A mournful time of year! Its sad enchantment

flatters my vision with a parting grace –

I love the sumptuous glow of fading nature,

the forests clad in crimson and in gold,

the shady coolness and the wind’s dull roaring,

the heavens all shrouded in a billowing mist

and the rare gleams of sun, the early hoarfrosts,

and distant grey-beard winter’s gloomy portents.

Aleksandr Pushkin (translated by Peter France)

15NOV2021 – OCF Update

 

Sony A7 III, Minolta 200mm F\4 Macro lens

 

“The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crisped and sere—
The leaves they were withering and sere;”

From “Ulalume” by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

I took a walk around to see if there were any photos to be had. And there were a few.  Mostly trees holding onto a precious few dead leaves.  And the sky and the leaves reminded me of those lines from Poe.  And looking it up I noted that Poe was only forty years old when he died.  Well, he was a very strange man with many problems.  But he did capture some very vivid imagery in some of his work.  And late fall is his special time of year.  October, November and December seem to be the time and mood of his prose and poetry.  Maybe Poe could qualify as one of Ray Bradbury’s “October People.”

Autumn is a very good time of the year to be in a warm house and sharing good food and good talk with friends and family.  And Thanksgiving is sneaking up on us so I checked up on Camera Girl’s holiday planning and indeed she assures me that a twenty five pound turkey will be included and that ample and various pies and other desserts will appear on the menu, so everything seems to be in order.

She informed me that Walmart has begun playing Christmas music outside the building.  Apparently broadcasting it will attract holiday shoppers by some sort of sympathetic vibration.  I asked her if the music put her in the holiday spirit and she rolled her eyes at me.  Despite her clear lack of spirit I will be starting my annual Christmas music marathon very soon.  The centerpiece of this program is the album that my parents used to play when I was about ten, “The Little Drummer Boy” by the Harry Simeone Chorale.  When I hear those versions sung I might as well be ten years old again.  For a little while I can forget the horrors of the world around us and bask in the old remembered warmth of being a kid in Real America.

Mid-October Walkabout

I have said a lot of bad things about New England weather.  Winters here are too long, too cold and involve way too much snow removal.  And all the other seasons are too short and too weird because of the winter bias.  But there is a little slice of Autumn in the middle of October where if things happen just right there are some very cool things moving around in the yard.

 

For instance, we haven’t seen a water snake around the yard all year.

But here at the point where the water snakes will soon head underground for the winter one of them has taken to sunning himself in front of one of the gardens.  He looks as if he’s been feeding extraordinarily well.  I assume all the rain has resulted in a bumper crop of frogs and fish.  He shows up in the afternoon and basks in the sun soaking up the heat he needs to metabolize the food in his stomach.  The temperatures are predicted to start falling into the 30’s at night.  That probably will send this snake underground for the winter.

And when all the other flowers in the yard are almost completely gone two flowers reach their peak in October.

Here’s the Montauk Daisies with two visitors a hover fly shows up for some pollen and nectar.

And a katydid gets to work devouring the leaves.

And the other flower I always look forward at this time of year is Wolfsbane.  Also known as Monkshood, the appearance of it’s bright purple flowers tell me Halloween is right around the corner and time for me to dust off my classic monster movies and quickly finish up my fall yard work.  Snow in late October is far from unheard of.

 

Here’s a salamander who was doing some fall foraging for his last meals.

And here are some interesting shots of milkweed seed pods.

 

I was disappointed not to have any candid shots of the local werewolf community.  Perhaps next week.

Autumnal Mood

Sony A7 III, Sony 35mm F\1.4

The first day of fall in 2021 is on Wednesday, September 22 at 3.21pm EDT.  Fall is the dying season.  You see it in the leaves changing color and falling to the ground.  You hear it in the desperate chirping of the crickets as they cling to warmth under stones and leaf mold.  You can smell it in the air as the dying leaves begin to decay.  And you can feel it in your head as the air begins to cool and dry out.  And for the old folks you can feel it in your old bones as cold begins to tighten your muscles and tendons.

There will be many beautiful days in September, October and November.  But summer is over and it will impact the way I feel and what I do.  Many people love fall best.  I can understand that.  Many detest the heat of summer.  Especially those living in the deep south.  For them the end of summer is a release from brutal heat and humidity.  But even in southern New England fall is just a prelude from the equally brutal reality of snow and cold.

But the good thing about Autumn is the longer nights.  For someone who spends a lot of time writing, the darkness is the right time to write.  The quiet and darkness of night isn’t interrupted by distracting sights and sounds.  In summer I am often tempted to drop what I’m working on and go out into the world and luxuriate in the heat and light and color and smell of the flowers.  So that’s the bad thing about Autumn.  For a photographer there is the fall foliage and that’s about it.  The butterflies and the dragonflies and the hummingbirds are gone.  In fact, most of the birds disappear.  Hopefully I might see some turkeys but mostly all I’ll hear is the wind and the water.

To compensate we get together with friends and family to celebrate another year and compare notes on children, grandchildren and milestones.  Hopefully we are mostly over the lockdown nonsense.  I would hate to think we have to spend another holiday season in isolation.  That would be a crime.

So, the change of season finds me subdued but not depressed.  There are some hopeful signs out in the political world.  Even the fake news admits that Biden’s job approval rating is underwater and bound to go lower.  A few men have shown some backbone, DeSantis and Abbott.  The mood on the real Right is quietly defiant.  We know we’re in a bad place but at least we aren’t being led by traitors and idiots.  We see what is going on around us with dismay but we are waiting to see if anyone will step forward and do something meaningful.  I’d say we’re being realistic.

Okay, enough gloom and doom.  On the bright side Camera Girl will be cooking and baking splendiferous foods.  Cakes and pies, soups and stews, roasts and sausages.  Everything that makes eating fun.  And of course, classic horror movies to celebrate Halloween.  So, bring it on, bring it on, bring it on.  Autumn here we come.