The Colors of Fall: A Walk in the Park
One fall day I found I had some time to kill in an unfamiliar part of town. Luckily, I was near a public park, and I saw that the trees were in full autumn bloom. Photographing the trees awash in reds, golds, and oranges was too good an opportunity to pass up. The park was serene, nearly empty but for a few folks meandering down the paths. The air was crisp but the sun was rosy and warm. Armed with a basic digital camera, I started snapping pictures of the trees and the landscape; however, I gradually moved closer and closer, trying to capture the unique texture of the leaves, the flaky bark of the tree trunks, and the way the light shone through the leaves, giving them a glowing luminescence.
One tree had a spidery web of branches, limbs climbing out in all directions. In the photograph, the darks and lights of the branches are joined with the shadows cast across the trunk. They twist and fork like gnarled, bony fingers. I'm reminded of the ominous trees in the dark forest that reach out, claw at, and frighten Snow White in the classic Disney film. In the daylight, though, this tree had a decidedly less threatening appearance.
Looking straight up at the foliage, it's like I'm in a tent of trees. The branches form a canopy of rustling, shivering leaves above me. The dark, shadowed limbs stand out against the golden glow of the leaves.
Up close, I can see the veins of each leaf. They are orange and glowing with vitality. In just a few short weeks, I think, they will have fallen to the ground and turned a crunchy, dry form. Now the reddish hues are edged with a hint of green, the last vestiges of the past summer.
With an unusual perspective, the tree limbs take on a dizzying, spiraling pattern. Branches and loop and curve with abandon. The leaves are a patchy mix of lights and darks, depending on how tightly clotted together they are.
Standing with my back to the tree trunks and looking straight up, I capture some shots that appear upside-down. The limbs seem to hang over the ground uncertain of gravity or direction. With my head craned back so far, my neck strained, I can appreciate the dizzy feeling.
I think of the days long ago when I still climbed trees. I think of carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, hayrides, and fall festivals. What person, young or old, doesn't love going on walks in the fall, with crunchy leaves underfoot, and the trees lit up like they're on fire? The autumn air so often has a chill, smoky scent to it I find intoxicating.
After the brutal Georgia summer passes, I look forward to the fall with an impatient longing. It's time to pack away the shorts and T-shirts and pull out some turtlenecks and thick socks. I'm glad I got to spend an hour or so at this park, taking an up-close look at something we normally view from afar with just a passing wonder.
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