Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Texture

A few more thoughts on this slipping away of Fall (December will never be Fall to me).  It struck me again this year how important texture becomes at this time of year.  We feel it intuitively (everyone starts liking things like velvet and burlap for their decorating, right?) but I wonder if it's more that there are more textures around us, or just that we notice them more?  When the variables of color are taken away, maybe our eyes just become more discerning---the same way when you're putting a puzzle together, all the sky pieces appear indistinguishable at first, but after staring at them for long enough they begin to sort themselves into gradients and differing shades until you wonder how you ever missed the differences.

It's almost like I've been staring at some truth all Summer and only as Fall fades into Winter does that truth  suddenly spring into sharp relief, formerly smooth and uninteresting platitudes suddenly revealing themselves to me in all their terrifying complexity: "Time quickens as you age;" "Youth is wasted on the young;" "Life is short."  When the colors fade, suddenly I can see the textures---and they are beautiful, but certainly many-layered, complicated, harder to classify.  Unsettling.  Which is maybe why I want so desperately to BE settled in the winter, to pull in, to gather myself, to let my thoughts run their long winding courses through the long cold nights, to keep my family close and safe.

There's a song Abe's choir sings right now, a Manx Lullaby, where the mother sings over her baby: "Oh hush thee my dove, oh hush thee my rowan, oh hush thee my lapwing, my little brown bird.  Oh fold thy wings, and seek thy nest now, Oh shine the berry on the bright tree.  The bird is home from the mountain and valley."  I want to fold my wings over my little birds and keep them warm, and I will---but I see the complexities of it too, see how temporary and how small our little nest is against the many-layered world.  And even, I see how it's best that way.  But it doesn't stop me wanting to freeze things just how they are now: the golden air and the glow on the horizon, sending sparks of light over those bright little heads.
I didn't understand that line "Oh shine the berry on the bright tree" until I saw this tree.  It was completely covered with yellow berries, like little bright coals.  It was unbelievable.  I couldn't get close enough to capture it sufficiently with the camera, but the effect of all those tiny berries en masse was staggering.

You can kind of see them here, maybe, if you click to enlarge

I love the textures in the pond here---the layers formed by the different thicknesses of ice, and then overlaid with reflected trees--sky--clouds.  Layers upon layers.

There is color here, especially in the light, but since the colors are all so similar, each variation is exaggerated, and the overall effect is still depth.

Another berry tree.  Red this time.

Berry clusters against sky

You would think the lighter parts would be easier to see here, but it's actually the shadowed areas that seem to hold more information.  Again the details come out when the contrasts are lower.

Those furry grasses show up on the picture almost like sunflares: hazy and glowing, like they were transposed onto our eyes by some magical effect and not through mundane reality.

These reds have a brave, desperate quality to them: holding on against the inevitable end 

Back-lit, these grasses turn into feathers, or wings

Velvet-textured seed pods, rimmed with gold

More glowing sparks: luminous pussywillow-lookalikes here, almost translucent in the last rays of light

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. Not only the photography, but the concepts of layered texture, and of detail emerging from the limitation in variety. How do you find this light? My friend at http://wabisabiwanderings.blogspot.com/ is blessed like you - light just comes to your guys. And the shock of that photo with the city buildings behind it - I don't have any idea where you were. You and I, we are Autumn children - that's where our thinking is hatched, stuck between backward and forward and totally in love with the transition. Maybe Autumn is the top of the hill after-all, because you can see so darn much from the vantage point.

    Autumn leaves us close enough green to know it in our bones, but promises the coziness of chill and bundled up nights, the comfort of removal of so much responsibility, so that it's legal to wrap up in a warm blanket with a good book and sip hot choc -

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