Autumn Light

I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebooks

As our world spins on its tilted axis through October, every morning becomes a wonderment of autumn light. Golden rays slant through the trees at sharp angles, throwing shadows and highlights that transform the familiar into the magical. reflectingpool

After a hot dry September and a warm early October, the trees are still green and just beginning to turn colors. Lately, days of sunshine and blue skies have brought the feeling of a second summer to the garden even as copper oak leaves begin to drift down into the beds. The warm colors linger on in the coleus and coral bells, still thriving before first frost. (Click on any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)

A few fall flowers carry on, greatly appreciated by the bees for a final feast before winter, while newly planted pansies should continue through the spring.

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face. ~John Donne

Some of the rose bushes are bearing hips, softened by the weather, while others continue to blossom in their final flush of color. Every day that a rose blooms in October seems like a precious gift.

The late October sun rarely shines above the trees in the lower garden and so the garden changes in mood throughout the day as the light sifts through the woods. autumngarden

Sometimes it throws a spotlight on favorite spots or favorite plants.

Sometimes it merely softens all of the colors into muted beauty.

softcircles

Step outside for moment and enjoy the glories of a sunlit autumn day, the grand finale before winter arrives.soredereschtlight

Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale. ~Lauren DeStefano, Wither

All photos and text ©2017 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted

The Year’s Last, Loveliest Smile

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
~WIlliam Cullen Bryant

muddy shoeAutumn is officially here in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ve been busy lately filming nature’s habitats for my A Year in Penn’s Woods project. On this past solstice weekend, I filmed scenes at a lake in the county park near our home. This lake was dredged and restored a year ago and is again filled with a rich diversity of plants and wildlife. Summertime was over, but the fish were still jumpin’ in the lake. Geese, ducks, and a beautiful blue heron graced the water. Yes, I lost a shoe to the mudflats that evening, having ventured too close to the water to find the right spot for filming. The water saturated mud sucked the tightly laced shoe right off of my foot and soaked through the other one; it seemed more important at the time to save the photography equipment rather than the hapless shoe. Undeterred, I continued filming in muddy socks on firmer ground. Lesson learned for future ventures.

Autumn solstice moon

The night of the solstice was magical; a moon slightly past full held court in the heavens wreathed by feathery garlands of clouds. The night was warm; the thrum and buzz of cicada and frog song created the illusion of a summer night instead of the advent of the autumn solstice. As the frog and insect chorus died away, the late evening concert was completed by the soft hoot of an owl in the woods. Although I am still editing the video footage I captured, I grabbed some still shots out of the video to share.  Enjoy!

All photos © 2013 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved.

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

September Song

Oh, it’s a long long while from May to December,
But the days grow short when you reach September. ~lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, from September Song

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Those long summer evenings are gone, borne away on the boom and crack of violent thunderstorms. Perhaps a few more warm nights remain, filled with the summer songs  of cicadas and frogs, but the weather is quickly changing to the cool short days of fall. It has been an odd summer – weather spinning from torrential rains and steamy days to the occasional stretch of dry sunny weather. Now the garden is filled with the sunny blooms of goldenrod and black-eyed susan; the last crop of cherry tomatoes glisten in shiny red cascades, and a giant cloud of fragrant white stars covers the sweet autumn clematis climbing up the fence and into the trees. All the creatures are busy filling their larders against the coming winter, from spiders bundling up yellow jackets caught in their webs to squirrels and chipmunks gathering acorns under the oak trees. The hummingbirds and most of the butterflies have headed south and flying V’s of geese are starting to follow them. Next week, the autumn solstice returns and summer will be truly gone.

As I wander the garden these days, pruning and weeding in preparation for bulb planting, I keep hearing the lovely “September Song” in my mind.  Here are a few images from the final days of the garden and a lovely clip of Ella Fitzgerald singing Kurt Weil’s haunting song. It is a lovely experience to start the music as a soundtrack before exploring the photos. (Click on any image to start the slide show – all images ©2013 Lynn Emberg Purse.)

Turbulent Transitions

I stood on a hill in Dunoon, Scotland, in the middle of March many years ago. Powerful winds brought a succession of rain, sleet, snow, hail, and sunshine over and over again in the course of an hour – a microcosm of the turbulent transition from one season to another. The change of seasons this week in Western Pennsylvania was less compressed – spread over days rather than minutes – but otherwise not so different. The week began with a warm evening on the deck, listening to what surely would be the final cicada and frog chorus of the season.  Gusty winds brought cold temperatures and days of rain, followed by an enchantingly beautiful misty morning immediately followed by a snowy morning, all in less than a week.

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Though I’m reluctant to acknowledge the end of the gardening season and the coming of winter, I must admit that I love the turbulent changes that the seasons’ transitions bring. There is a certain security in knowing that one season will follow another, an overarching stability of structure. But the passage from one state to another is filled with chaos, unpredictability and extreme fluctuations. It is this push pull of change and stability that fascinates me, and it seems to be at the heart of my artistic endeavors as well. Achieving a balance between the familiar and the novel, the security of what has been done and the adventure of exploring new ideas, is an ongoing dynamic in my work, and perhaps in my life as well. 

A video celebration of nature’s transitions in my garden, set to the music of “Falling” from “Three States of Being.”

Here’s another take on the idea of transitions as passages, courtesy of Margie Strosser.

All text and images of “Turbulent Transitions” ©2011 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved