If you’re not paying attention the change of seasons just seems to jump up and slap you – have you ever noticed that? Here it seemed that autumn just slowly wandered in, gradually enticing us with a crisp night here, a changing leaf there, and then grudgingly pushing summer aside to make itself known as an obvious season for a bit. Now I look out the window and suddenly it’s winter, a grey world punctuated by white snow patches and swift clouds running on the gusting wind.
It’s not that I don’t like winter. I’m a big fan of really cold nights and snow laying on the terrain smoothing the world’s irregularities. Winter is Nature’s push-back to the world of 24-hour business and constant connection, sending us a message to slow down for at least part of our lives.
But as a photographer, though, I miss autumn. It never seems to last long enough for me to fully capture the scenes I want. Funny how summer and winter use up their full three months and sometimes more, whereas spring and autumn just rush by and give a hint of their influence. For me, autumn feels like it lasts just a couple of weeks with the rest of the time either waiting for leaf color to change or running around trying to find the last remnants of color in the woods.
People who worry about such talk about the “peak” of fall color, as if that’s a real point in time like the winter solstice or high noon, and try to predict when it will occur each year. The idea conjures up an image of photographers standing behind their cameras in the woods, waiting patiently for that “peak” moment to fire their shutters and then pack up to head home until next year. And in doing so missing the gradual grades of warm colors that emerge, brighten, and fade on their own schedules, independent of the needs of photographers.
And that’s what I miss about autumn when it gets squeezed between summer and winter. The shortening of the daylight, the unhurried change from green foliage to red or yellow or orange, the drop in humidity that entices you out of the house at night to appreciate Nature’s own air conditioning. These should get a full season as well, giving us time to make our own transition from summer bustle to winter rest.