11 November 2013
Part One: Oak Leaf
Part Two: Variations on Leaves from Bradford Pear Tree
Let me know which you prefer and why.
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Autumn is a season of constant reassessment. The landscape’s journey from fully dressed to sculpted bodies, which clings to the horizon and beyond, fills me up with silent joy. There is a treasure trove of memories each time that I slide my hands around the bamboo rake and begin the ritual of gathering and placing.
Leaves are “liquid gold” to my gardens. Nature provides them, and I comply. They make mulch and act as protection. Arugula and parsley are smothered in leaves. New native cardinal flowers are completely covered. Seasoned areas are cozy and can still feel the sunlight. Leaves are electric blankets for the wintery days and nights.
As I rake, the sound of the action is sweet music. I cannot help but be calmed by the process with its cadence and rhythm. No modern tool with its noise pollution will ever be held by me (I hear those blowers and it aggravates.).
There are so many leaves that it surprises me when one pops into view–grabs my attention for its unique qualities. While it is profoundly awe-inspiring to see swaths of singular or multi-colored autumn leaves beaming from trees, I am drawn to solo beauty.
Maybe I find their duties and responsibilities overpowering. They are such essential parts of Mother Nature’s progeny. They are life lines for our lives.
WE depend upon their partnership with sunlight to produce food that sustains their bones and ours. They are the heart of photosynthesis and its crucial role in food production.
Sounds as though I’m reviewing high school botany, but I’m truly serious. (Photosynthesis involves a chemical reaction: 6CO2 + 6H2O (+ light energy) C6H12O6 + 6O2.) That process is our source of oxygen or O2. We depend upon it for the air we breathe, which is why deforestation is a major concern.
When I view a leaf, I intuit the tree that hosts its remarkable contribution to our lives. I covet its place in our human journey.
Maybe I seem a bit overly dramatic. Maybe it’s a result of yesterday’s Visiting Scholars Lecture Series at UD. The one that I attended was titled “Telling the Climate Change Science Story.” It told the bad and ugly with a bit of optimism, and was stacked with scientific facts.
In the Lens section are my tributes to the leaf in two parts. Part One shows a singular oak leaf with its intricate system of veins. I can imagine the sunlight being drawn onto the surface of this sweet leaf, which has lost its original color.
Part Two contains five Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana) leaves, each from this season, and easily tells why I anticipate autumn’s effects on a tree’s multitude of leaves. In my part of the USA this ornamental deciduous is considered an invasive, having been brought here from China and Korea. I would never plant it, but it came with my half-acre property. It’s the species that city’s plant to enliven the urban streetscapes. There are so many other choices that it’s easy to understand why my city just removed them from our Main Street.
Among other issues the Bradford Pear tree has a shallow root system, weak structure, and a short life span (25-30 years). While I keep it pruned, I cannot remove it. It’s a haven for the wildlife, and I find its painterly display in autumn a reason to honor its presence.
My lone Bradford Pear attracts a variety of birds year round. Woodpeckers have made concentric circles around the trunk (a yellow-bellied sapsucker has been dining all morning). Brown creepers forage for insects on it as they make their way up and down its girth. White-breasted nuthatches open seeds in the groves of its bark.
In early spring the tree is covered in a parade of blossoms that herald in the warmer weather. Strangely, this fruit tree does not bear edibles. But the squirrels devour the teeny tiny clusters of immature and brownish-yellow fruits. But many of them simply drop and dry, and it’s so messy.
Still, each autumn the joy overshadows the negatives (especially the shallow root system). When it begins its slow shedding, a kaleidoscope of colors appear. Each leaf seems to have its own personality. Each leaf has stamped its last breath with a startling statement.
I collect and dry them to savor their bountiful hues. Eventually, the colors fade, and I can only remember their charms through a frozen still made by my camera’s eye.
While the leaves are fairly uniform, each seems to allow light to bounce off them. These smallest leaves (1 3/4″ x 2″) are double-toothed edged (almost scalloped), and have a sheen.
Clearly, they catch my eye as they absorb the sun’s rays. Clearly, they astonish with their multi-colored personalities.
Tip of the Week: While I mostly shoot nature in its natural setting, I usual take the single leaf inside with LED lights. Since I dry them, each is photographed a few weeks after collection. For this set I placed them on tracing paper, just to give the background a soft texture. Maybe it would have been better to take them outside, but I find that I’m on a continuous journey of experimentation that has infinite ways to travel.
Here are other entries:
As always I welcome any comment about this post or any part of my blog. Here’s a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Phoneography Challenges:
1st Monday: Nature
2nd Monday: Macro
3rd Monday: Black and White
4th and 5th Mondays: Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).