Most people would agree that autumn is a resplendent time of year. Pumpkins and apples abound. Thoughts of freshly baked pies, turkey, stuffing, cranberry fixings, and something delectable from sweet potatoes made with brown sugar and butter tantalize our taste buds. There is anticipation, too, of the first scent of wood smoke in the air.
This year, nestled in our Catskill Mountains, our eyes were danced upon. An intense profusion of colors burst upon our landscape. Daytime temperatures remained in the sixties into early November! The sun shone every day with few exceptions. Even when it rained, the colors continued to dazzle. It was one of God’s finest displays of glory: a wide spectrum of hues on every tree and in every leaf from deep russet and burnt orange to bright gold, sunshine yellow, and crimson red.
The autumnal sky brought its own canvas of color: bright blues to various shades of lavenders melting into soft grays. We witnessed sunrises and sunsets that staggered us with in-the-moment changes from deep orange to pink, and then, fire red. Everything, all of nature, shouted praises. The landscape, even today, remains alive with rustling leaves falling from towering trees to a final rest where they will be absorbed into our bountiful earth.
This morning, shortly before I published this Journal, I tried to capture the austere grandeur of the day’s sunrise through the now leafless woodlands that reside outside my windows. It thrills me to watch these morning miracles for each is different, containing its own spirit with both subtle and dramatic hues, shadows, and drama. Each of our days calls for a resounding hallelujah! to the Great Author and His spectacular theater.
I walked with my cameras hanging from my shoulders, a backpack with my lenses, and more ‘tools’ stuffed into my pockets. I did not seek the obvious in photographing the vast landscapes, farmlands, and soft shouldered Catskill Mountains. Rather, I sought out scenes and subjects that are overlooked; quiet in their beauty; or merely too common to be worthy of anything more than a glance.
Would these images be worthy? I need to hear music, and feel the soul of the subject; see movement too, even if it appears steadfast. When I do not hear, or feel that tug within, I know I am being told it has no song; it is lifeless. So, I delete the image never to be seen again.
While some of my expectations went astray as they usually do, there was always something more waiting for me to notice. Always. I am old enough now to say this with certainty: those surprises, the unexpected delight may not come in my time, but it does come in God’s time…if I’m patient.
Hundreds of photographs were taken. Fourteen, as of this morning!, remain and are presented here.
On one morning walk when the colors surged forth to their peak, I found myself in the throes of a forceful wind. There stood a tree half dead, half alive. I wanted to preserve the still-living section even with the wind’s refusal to calm. I finally surrendered to the wind and saw the tree differently. Always a dancer at heart, I imagined the tree limbs as balletic dancers in a soft, elegant flow, arrayed in various hues of red, orange, and gold against the bluest of blue skies with just a suggestion of deep lavender strokes deliberately placed there by The Great Artist.
On another morning, quite early, I walked to our historical cemetery. I find beauty in its stillness; mystery in the fog slowly rising; life in the russet and yet-still-green grasses; wonderment in the aged gravestones dating from the late 1700s to late 1800s. The cemetery transports me. It does not speak of decay, but, rather, life once lived, and the miracle of Creation and eternity.
Further along on this particular walk, I passed a garden with several lagniappes…flowers blooming in late-October and in astonishing color!
A few weeks rolled by and our warm weather and autumnal color seemed unending. I rose early enough to take this sunrise “happening.” There was a storm on its way and the sky seemed conflicted on whether the clouds would dominate, or the sun would prevail for a while. This image reminds me of the Hudson River School of painting and the use of light, capturing the dichotomy of ruggedness and sublimity of our Hudson Valley.
The sun did not prevail that day, so I drove to an old silo on 9W North. Hundreds of people pass this silo every day. It is ignored for the silo is weather-beaten, unused, and old. I, though, see beauty and music and grandeur in her, and I finally captured this image after waiting for the right moment in time: a cloudy, drizzly day in autumn.
Across from the silo, there was a field I barely noticed in the past. When I turned to get back into my car, this image was presented to me. I adore the bare architecture of nature and this too sung to me; perhaps an adagio movement of a quiet musical composition.
The sun made its entrance through morning clouds the following day as I strolled along the River walkway only to discover a scene of perfect serenity: a single boat in the calm of the River; the golden willow that is the first to bloom and the last to lose her color; two red benches, punctuating the peacefulness of all the eye could behold.
I found the experiences of this past autumn rapturous. God danced over our eyes and glorified Creation with a grace-filled beauty so grand yet fragile that it brought tears to my eyes. I am humbled and grateful to have been “guided” to these images and to write about my journeys these past weeks.
There is always gratitude we can offer, no matter what is happening in our lives. Each day is a new gift: for that alone, I am thankful. Each day offers blessings and miracles, large and small, if we quiet our lives long enough to see and listen. And, for these I am grateful.
The Book of Abbey
Abbey is another reason I give thanks daily. She sleeps most of her days and comes to life at night. But, it is a moment like this where she is fascinated with the rain and appears to be in deep meditation that I say ‘thank you.’ The wonderful, blessed fact is that she is happy, healthy, and my good girl and companion.
I hope you enjoyed walking with me during my footsteps through autumn. I wish you and yours bountiful blessings for this Thanksgiving and every day that follows.
“You are the Author of beauty.” ~ Wisdom 13:3