Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reflections on a long, sweet, and warm northwoods weekend

Just a few thoughts about being "up north" once again, a week or so after "peak," but surrounded by beauty nonetheless.

It was almost summer up here, temps pushing into the eighties, nary a cloud in the sky. At times, it was almost, well, warm. No one complained. I swear, some trailside wild flowers--like dandelions--got faked out into believing it was the real thing, even though the first frost couldn't have come up all that long ago. But this little guy wasn't fooled. It looks as if he's doing the bulk of his winter storage in his cheeks.

Milkweed is the bane of soy bean farmers, but when it grows wild, it always adds something sensuous to late fall, its natural rhythms seemingly disparaging the calendar. Those heavy pods full of silk don't open until October at least, not exactly prime time for birthing seeds. But then, who am I to question their success? They manage very well, thank you, quite beautifully too, their silkiness a sheer wonder.
Years ago, I remember reading how the town of Amsterdam, Wisconsin, was moved from the Lake Michigan shoreline a mile or so inland to a place where the railroad had just come, most of the buildings hauled along behind horses on long tamarack boughs. I had no idea what a tamarack was until this week, when their auburn shine gloriously arrayed the woodlands all around. I still don't know much about them; they seem some kind of hybrid, not quite deciduoous, not quite evergreen. All I know is what they add to the landscape's pallette this time of year is quintessentially fall.

Once the leaves are down--or mostly so--there are parts of the woods that catch sunlight, places where, by May, the sun otherwise never shines. If you look closely, that sunlight, coming in spots, lights up whatever's there in a way seen only on stage, as if a whole galley of full spots are featuring a leave or a plant or single sapling. It's as if every last plant in the woods gets its own fifteen minutes of fame. Photography is all about light, so there's no end to the show. You just got to get it right.

When that strong autumn sun streams through leaves, there's an almost neon glow that's startling in its intensity. Here and there, against the bare branches, bright splashes of colors from the hardwoods, stubborn about shedding their leathery glory.

No comments: