“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)
Well, another fall has come and gone. Oh, I know it’s just November 11 but that’s the talk I hear from a lot of nature photographers. It seems like for many the only thing good about autumn is the two to three weeks of beautiful fall foliage. Considering how spectacular those two to three weeks can be I kind of understand where they’re coming from—anything after that pales in comparison. Perhaps, but I’m not quite sure about that. I love photographing fall foliage as much as anyone else but I believe autumn has so much more to offer than just colorful leaves and reflections.
Where I live in western Kentucky we are well past peak fall foliage. Many trees are already bare and the rest of them will be soon. Even so, I’m excited because I know before long the great flocks of snow and speckled geese will be arriving at the Wildlife Management Area nearby. They will be joined by tundra swans and a number of other species that we do not see the rest of the year. The return of the birds is as much a part of autumn as the turning of the leaves.
Another thing I like about late fall is the new vistas that are available. When the trees are bare you can see into places and spaces not possible when the trees are covered with leaves. A walk in the woods takes on a whole new look and feeling in late autumn. The incredible patterns of tree branches hidden when covered with leaves in and of themselves become a wonder to behold. In some ways there is more to see in late fall than at other times of the year.
Upon reflection it seems kind of strange that so many people associate autumn primarily with colorful leaves. There is certainly far more to fall than beautiful foliage. Perhaps if we could remember this we would enjoy the season more. And that goes for each of the seasons. Winter is about more than snow, spring is about more than flowers blooming, and summer is about more than sunny days. The Creator has blessed us with so much to see, experience and enjoy throughout the entire year but if we are not careful we’ll miss a lot of it. I suggest we be careful…
(I took the pictures shown above near my home in Henderson County, Kentucky.)
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
George Eliot once said “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” I don’t know much about George Eliot but I have to agree with him on this one. I love autumn and would, indeed, like to be a bird that could fly about the earth just so I could experience one autumn after another. In a sense I guess I’ll be doing just that this coming week. In a couple of days I’m flying (by plane) to Maine so that I can photograph the beauty of autumn in New England. Each year I try to go somewhere that fall colors arrive earlier than they do here in the southern Appalachians. I do this so that I can experience the splendor of fall more than once.
There is much about autumn that I enjoy. I love the cooler temperatures that come with this season. I enjoy the evenly balanced hours of daylight and darkness. Autumn brings back wonderful memories of fall festivals when I was a kid, hayrides, and playing in leaves. But most of all, I enjoy the colors of autumn. Primarily I’m referring to the reds, yellows, and oranges of fall foliage but, as Rob would be quick to note, there are also delightful colors to be found in fall wildflowers. Here my favorite is the unique blues of asters.
One of the things I don’t like about autumn is the beautiful colors do not last long. By the time November rolls around most of the leaves will be off the trees and the flowers will have died. Even if I were a bird I could only fly so long and then there would be no more autumns to enjoy. Winter inevitably arrives. It helps if we can admit this upfront. If we know that something will not last forever hopefully we will be wise enough to enjoy it while we can.
As I continue thinking along these lines I realize that the brevity of autumn is a good reminder for all of us to live in the present moment and to make the most of the occasions we have to enjoy Creation and life itself. It’s a call to “seize the day” and not wait until it is too late to do certain things we should. This could be viewing nature’s glory but it might also be telling someone we love them or perhaps “I’m sorry.” Autumn’s brevity also includes the reminder that the things and people we love and enjoy most will not be here forever and, for that matter, neither will we. For that reason we should never take anyone for granted or even a single day of our lives. Yes, autumn has much to teach us if we are ready to listen, ready to learn. May God help us all to be good students.
(I took the top image at Baxter State Park in Maine. The bottom two images were captured at Acadia National Park, also in Maine. I plan to visit both parks this coming week.)