The Subtle Season

Subtle and dark, lovely and stark, in gentle tones of gray and brown and white, for a night and a day, then all turns gray . . .  from the song “Winter” by Lynn Emberg Purse

In the study of the physics of sound, I have always found it interesting that humans don’t perceive many different subtleties of volume but an almost infinitesimal perception of the subtleties in pitch (frequency) and tone color (timbre.)

And so it is in the garden.  It is that “in between” season, after the loud fireworks of autumn and before the stark black and white of winter.  The garden is quiet these days, with mostly the wind and the occasional bird call for a soundtrack as I wander through. But with the closest attention, there is subtle beauty that will linger until the snows come.

36 thoughts on “The Subtle Season

  1. Great way to express…greyer seasons. 🙂 I think people develop different skills in aural discernment at different stages in life. But if one can develop that “ear” earlier in liffe, the better.
    As youi know I’m not musically -inclined but on the language side, anyonw who speaks some Chinese (because they might have to), has develpoed aural sense to deal with a tonal language that’s difficult to learn.

  2. I, too, have a few things hanging on and offering some color in my bare fall garden. And the birds have been busy, giving me something to watch out the window. Hope your fall semester is going well.

    • Hi Paula – glad you are enjoying the season. As I write this, the birds have been flying back and forth in front of the windows – they are definitely the brightest spot of color in the garden right now! We had a hard freeze last night; I cut the last of the rose blooms to bring in to the house – a fragrant reminder 🙂

    • Frank, you are so right about that. If you look closely enough, there is always life and beauty around us. Th ornamental grasses really do come into their own now; the flowers are just starting to open on many here and I love the way they move in the wind. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Such beautiful words and photos. I wholeheartedly agree with you. This “bare trees” season is surprisingly restorative, is it not? Spent a couple of hours outside yesterday, cleaning up the garden a bit, and enjoyed the richness of the seedheads, the forage available to the small creatures that depend on it to survive the winter, the sleeping bulbs. What a gift!

    • Tammy, thanks for visiting. I did the same this weekend while the weather was still mild; cleaned up leaves, planted a few bulbs, and generally enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air. You are right, it is a wonderful gift!

  4. Pingback: An invitation « Life in the Bogs

  5. We hear such a small piece of the auditory spectrum. And comparatively little of the visual spectrum. And so often we remain blind/deaf to what remains available to us – which is still quite wondrous as you show us!

    • Bumba, welcome and thanks for visiting and commenting! You are so right, we are often unaware (and physically unequipped to be aware) of the full spectrum, but we could be more aware than we are. That is my goal, at any rate -)

  6. With apologies to T.S. Eliot, for visual artists in this part of the world, November and March are usually the cruelest months, for precisely the reasons you cite, Lynn. It’s the transitional periods between the season of contrast (winter) and the seasons of color (fall and spring) that can be so difficult. But there is beauty in subtlety; it typically requires a bit more labor to tease it out.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Kerry, I love your description of “the season of contrast” and “the seasons of color” – very succinct. And yes, it does take more care and attention to see the beauty in the “cruelest months” – I think it is a matter of putting expectations and preconceptions aside (oh, so difficult!) and seeing what is before us and treasuring it 🙂

  7. It is so refreshing to visit your blog, even in the fall! You always seem to convey the aural experience that goes with your visuals; the soundtracks to your slideshows are somehow always here.

  8. Thanks for reminding us to observant ALL the time. We, so often, just go through life looking only at what immediately affects us and missing what is swirling all around us!

    • Thanks, Graham – my new resolution is to “pay attention” to the present moment. It certainly changes one’s perspective and awareness! Hope you are settling into life in Africa – it was a wonderful surprise to see you and Marilyn in the airport.

  9. I love how you’ve captured the subtleties of late Autumn – a time that can seem bland and barren even. Yet mosses still grow in the woods and sap still runs in the trees. There is life, even if it seems rather still and colourless.

  10. Very touching! Indeed there is a special quietness and stillness right now – I hope not just for one night and one day 🙂

    • Thanks for visiting, Diversifolius. I think there is a whole season of this ahead. I never really put the garden “to bed” because I love the look of all of the seedheads and flowerheads until the snow covers them.

  11. Thank you, Lynn, for this invitation to be with whatever we’re offered, in stillness and with gratitude for the beauty of everything that is, now. You’ve captured that perfect marriage of death into life, endings and beginnings, and the time of mystery that occurs in autumn. All around us are the details of stories that are concluding, and others where characters and plot are engaging in their initial attractions…and we can wonder about the stories to come all winter long. (Oops, you were using composer metaphors and I slid into my author metaphors 🙂 )… Subtleties command our attention and bid us to better focus. Your beautiful photographs are the perfect accompaniment. Thank you, thank you, for the perfect blessing you’ve composed and offered.

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