Singing the Praises of Warm Fall Weather

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When I opened my eyes this morning, still toasty under the blankets, the room was aglow with a warm, radiant light.  Recognizing the signs I jumped out of bed (no easy feat with these achy joints) to be treated to another breathtaking sunrise.

Autumn through spring these are expected but every single one starts the day as a huge gift.  I never see them as predictors of the weather, I see them as the beginning of a string of little gifts for the day.  It reminds me to look for them.

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Minutes later the fog was there and the sky had dramatically changed.  The most amazing part was it being so warm outdoors that I could throw on my Mucks and go out in my bathrobe to photograph the changing sky. I seem to recall there being snow on the ground by now last year or at least so cold I would have considered getting dressed first.

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The weather has been unusually warm for this time of year with it predicted to last through next week.  Thank goodness, there is so much garden work to do.  The cold doesn’t usually stop me but it definitely slows me down.  Fires have to be lit – physically and mentally in order to get going in the morning.  This blessed warm weather keeps the heating costs down.

There are a million things I should be doing indoors, this is usually the time of year when the cold weather projects come out.  I look forward to it – the weaving, rug hooking, quilting but it looks like all of it will be put off until after dark at least.  My carrots and rutabagas are still in the ground, the perennial gardens need cleaning out.  More wood needs to be cut and split.  The coop needs to be moved, buildings buttoned up for the winter.  Yeah, time to get moving and mentally sing the praises of warm fall weather.

End of Season

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The summer season is winding down.  With all of the pressure to prepare for winter it is still my favorite time of year.  Maybe it’s that sense of urgency, the knowledge that every single day will have to be packed full of projects because that cold, snowy weather is right around the corner.

It’s so subtle, it sneaks up on you really.  Mid August you begin to notice it getting darker so much earlier and the day doesn’t begin with the sunrise until after 5:00 AM.  The birdsong is changing.  The insects you encounter are different as well.  You’re listening to crickets, huge grasshoppers leap in front of you on that afternoon walk about.  Huge caterpillars are making themselves known with their size and color.

The leaves are changing to my favorite palette.  Gone are the bright, cheery greens of spring, the steadfast greens of summer. Now comes the olives, golds and rusts.

The photo above shows the reality of my vegetable garden.  It was so beautifully taken care of until August when I went on a week-long vacation.  It got away from me and at this point there’s no going back.  It hasn’t stopped producing.  The blogs I read show immaculately kept gardens but in the back of my mind this is how I imagine they really are.  The realities of doing anything agriculturally – especially by yourself – is that things are not as tidy as you wish them to be.  So you pick your battles.

The fall party this year has turned into a family baby shower.  I will be holding my first grand baby in my arms around the beginning of November.  The grounds will be as tidy as they can be – Bill takes great pride in his lawn.  The messiness of the chickens and that overgrown garden will be here in all of their glory as well as a building flattened and not yet moved and a back forty full of goldenrod taller than I am.

But you know.  The goldenrod is in full bloom and it is the loveliest shade of yellow.

The Party’s Over, but the Sheep Don’t Seem to Notice

131027 SheepMy neighbor has four sheep.  They are curious creatures, staring at me the entire time I am outdoors within earshot (they always move into viewing range when they hear any of us outside).

The glorious colors of this autumn are a distant memory. There are a few trees with some leaves hanging on, the blackberry bushes still are beautiful.

The leaves this fall were spectacular, better than I’ve seen in years.  The traffic on Route 2 was worse than I can recall in recent memory.  I take a certain satisfaction is knowing that I can avoid driving that route by taking back roads with the bonus being better views of the foliage.  I have always looked at the “leaf peepers” with a small measure of disdain.  How dare they cause these crazy traffic problems on an otherwise lightly travelled road?  What are they thinking driving 20 mph and stopping suddenly to take a photograph of particularly colorful maple.  These are my trees.  I have watched their entire cycle and October is the reward.

I then realize how blessed I am to be living in such beauty.  How wonderful it is to have family and friends locally that take advantage of all of it with their cameras and how amazing it is that we can all share our imagery so readily via the internet.  With all of the complaints an old film photographer can have this is one time when I think digital is amazing.


Little Gifts

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The leaves this year are spectacular.  The past few years have been less so, a muddled brown mess, a disappointment to the people who travel hours to gawk at them.

Yesterday was a rainy, cold day.  I looked out the window often, the color in the back forty at its peak.  The grasses have all turned a golden brown with the rust colored ferns mixed in.  The maples are wearing their scarlet jackets now, more brilliant with each passing day.  The birches a bright yellow.  Another week and it will all be gone for the most part, especially if the rain keeps up.

I have seen the leaves change every year for my entire life.  Many years ago I was working as a photographer in North Carolina during foliage season and I flew home for a weekend so I wouldn’t miss it.

I have to tell you that I rarely photograph the foliage as it changes.  I observe it, soak it in but I’ve found that photographs I’ve taken just blend in year after year.  As I left the house in Rowe last evening I drove right past this.  The pond is right in the center of town (of course the center of town is just a few buildings).  There is a gazebo just to the left out of the photograph.  The light was going fast, there was a heavy mist and the fog was pretty dense.  I notice the tree right away and thought wow, how beautiful.  I kept on driving but the tree was stuck in my head.  As I continued down the road I first thought “I’ll take it during the week, next time up.”  I then realized this was it – the only moment this would look like this.  If it was still in my head a mile down the road I had to turn back.  I did.

As I walked around the green I thought about the house that was once in this spot, abutting the road.  I thought about learning to fish in that pond and doing it often from the shore with other friends all having ridden our bikes with our poles.  I remembered Helen and Ray, creators and guardians of the the Rowe Historical Society spending their retirement years in the house on the pond.

Walking back to my car, my feet completely soaked, I wondered why I never really noticed that maple before.  I think it’s just a little gift you get every once in a while.  That tree flagged me down, told me to look at the exquisite beauty all around me, stop taking it for granted.

Little gifts, you just have to slow down long enough to accept them.  The bonus is I got back into my car, scrolled through the images I had just taken and thought “Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted.”  A rare feeling indeed.

In Between Seasons

130912 Morning Storm Clouds (1)The past two days have been hot and humid, the cicadas buzzing away.  I brought the dogs out at 6:30 this morning and this is what the sky looked like.  Something you normally see as the clouds build on a humid summer afternoon as the thunderstorms roll in.  It feels like July.

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This kind of weather does something to my brain – I can’t quite comprehend the garden being done (yes, other than digging potatoes and rutabagas it’s done). My mind has moved onto Fall jobs.  Bringing in and stacking wood, that’s what I should be doing but not it this heat.

Then I look out over my newest garden, still ablaze with color,  everything taking on the ochre colors of autumn and my mind knows that winter is coming.

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