Fall - Seasons


Did I mention that the colors of autumn were muted in this neck of the woods? That may well be, however, this morning as the sun rose at the acute angle that is its wont this time of the year, it shimmered through the wood behind my sister’s yard with such a brilliance of yellow as to seem a similitude of the sun’s own incandescent patina. The solar luster glinted and sparkled through the leaves with a fire-like intensity that seemed to set the forest ablaze with an astral luminosity. If there is a limitation of palette, vivacity of mien surely offset it, at least on this majestic morn.

There’s something magical about the forest at its autumnal peak. Soon those colors will fade to the rust, burnt and brown shades of the post-peak season. These hues also provide a beauty of a different kind, only to be followed by the bleak and dismal grey of November. My sister likes to point out that this is the time of rebirth, that the trees dormancy actually portends their ultimate regeneration. The outward appearance of the trees, however, signify their demise and that, to me, exacerbates the spectral aspect of the landscape.

Physically, this area is far different from what I was used to. I lived for nearly 25 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, longer than I have lived anywhere else, more than half my adult life. The sky is bigger there, the vistas broader, the trees larger. There is more open expanse there. Here the woods are dark and seemingly impenetrable. The long stretches of low trees mask what views may be seen and the same trees crowd together in thickets, deep and dark, all murk and gloom.

Down the road from my sister’s house is a large millpond surrounded by these same thick woods. Their lightly colored autumnal foliage reflects admirably in the pond’s still waters giving rise to a picture postcard effect, but disappointingly not evocative of long ago New England autumns of my youthful memory. The colors here are somewhat dimmed, I have read, by the prolonged drought the region is enduring, though I have also read, in the past, that the intense New England fall foliage colors are precipitated, in part, by the highly acidic soil indigenous to the Northeast. Whatever the reason, it is Virginia’s loss, for the muted colors in these parts are a poor reintroduction to the marvel of autumnal transmogrification.

Along Cooks Mill Road – named for the small, abandoned mill at the millpond – diminutive homes, like the ones everyone lives in these parts, pepper the woods. These miniature houses, not unlike your place in Dennis (cottages really), make do for just about everybody. There are rarely any large homes, no large families was originally my guess but it seems when the quarters get too close they merely build another cottage. These multi-structure compounds dot the area, some comprising numerous rundown shanties, with an abandoned appearance, clotting the grounds.

Abandoned homes intermittently make an appearance interspersed throughout the woodland. These dilapidated edifices speak volumes about once semi-prosperous clans whose fortunes eventually gave out. Their exasperated descendants, presumably having grown tired of the rural life, simply walked away and left the old homestead to stand in mute vegetation-choked testimony to some irrelevant ancestral dream.

Such is life here in the deep woods of eastern Virginia. It would require no stretch of the imagination to picture ax-murderers brought up here. It could definitely be a breeding ground for a quiet, reserved, socio-path of a serial killer. It sometimes seems it could pass as a set for the movie Deliverance.

Moreover, every crack in the forest, animal trace, dirt road or path is heavily marked “No Trespassing or Hunting”, so hiking, and by extension, exploration, is verboten until hunting season is over, i.e., January. Right now is bow hunting season but soon the gunmen will fan out in full force, blanketing the thick forest. I hope that no inept, blind, wannabe faux-huntsman a la Dick Cheney will be among them. I would hate to find some hapless soul with a face full of buckshot splayed across the front yard.

As in the aforementioned morning, the sun gleamed through the leaves, now softened (or hardened as the case may be) to auburn, aureate, copper and bronze. Gone was the sun-splashed golden mien, replaced with a now desiccated aspect; soon, the wind will pick up, scattering the leaves in their annual Diaspora. All of which lead to a overall denuded fascia, which in turn gives rise to the ghostly look alluded to previously.

That spectral nature will be upon this gloomy wood soon enough. Perhaps, then, this forest will lose its ceaseless murk, gaining through subtraction what could not be attained, even with the supplement of color. Anything would be an improvement over this perpetual gloom, even the thought of unending, rain-filled November does not dissuade the desire to lose this relentless eclipse of all that is light.

Soon the frost will be on the pumpkin, the gelid will overtake the morning glory and all will be covered in the chill that does not cease. Winter will be upon those who await the Spring Solstice and the rebirth it brings to those weary of the unremitting chill.

Fall - Seasons

stephen hewitt

Lanexa, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

A rumination on autumnal changes. Fall installment to Seasons series

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