Traces of Autumn and the Transience of Life

03 November 2011


Two weeks ago at the local botanical garden

Cockscomb, 2011

Celosia, 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Greenhouse, 2011

Greenhouse, 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Greenhouse Fan, 2011

Greenhouse Fan, 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

More Autumnal Photographs of my Pond

Autumnal Pond I, November 2011;

Autumnal Pond I, November 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Autumnal Pond II, November 2011;

Autumnal Pond II, November 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Autumnal Pond III, November 2011;

Autumnal Pond III, November 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Autumnal Pond IV, November 2011;

Autumnal Pond IV, November 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Mother Nature surprised my garden and me last weekend. The temps dropped dramatically and a wintery storm hit with harsh winds–much too soon for my equilibrium. The forecast had me collecting the last traces of summer’s bounty and autumn’s fare: rosemary, parsley, arugula, tangerine sage blossoms, and hydrangea clusters. Then I gathered pine needles and oak leaves to bed the arugula, blueberries and parsley for the winter months. This ritual is needed for me to make the transition–the mental leap from the balmy warmth of summer and gentle glaze of autumn to the chilling days ahead.

Even after nature’s blast of ice and snow, the sage stood tall with blossoms and flowers, and parsley was ready for duty. The rosemary could have cared less. Well, no damage in my small part of the universe. Even next night’s first hard frost was less than dramatic.

Autumn gives rise to reassessment of my gardens. So I went to my favorite nursery and bought another high-bush blueberry and a scarlet agastache, happily planting them for next gardening season. Then I made a note of my plan to rearrange the vegetable gardens to accommodate the sporadic weather of my region’s springs and summers.

Since this season is holding tight to her stance, it gives me time to adjust to what is the inevitable: winter. Every year I struggle to create a Zen attitude toward the cold months ahead. I rationalize the need for Mother Earth to go through the life cycle, and I tell myself how fortunate I am to live where the four seasons keep prancing their stuff (although with climate changes and fluctuations who knows what will happen–even if we’ll keep experiencing four seasons in the Mid-Atlantic).

Trees are shedding their cover slowly with a quiet dignity, embarking on another phase. This alteration of the visual landscape is emblematic of Mother Nature’s whispering: the quiet and often vocal drama before her next move.

With the (seemingly) glacial-like changes last month my garden still reminds me of the tough season we had. As I clean and prepare for its dormancy, I am re-appropriating spaces for next year’s bounty.

The signs of metamorphosis are increasing, and they easily remind me that traces of autumn mirror the traces of self. We tend to divide our external and internal universe into nature and human nature. But, for me, everything is played on the same field–no separation, no exclusions. As we watch nature, we are watching ourselves: the transience of life.

Note: Please let me know which is your favorite photograph from each grouping.

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10 Responses to Traces of Autumn and the Transience of Life

  1. Your photographs get better and better, Sally. I particularly like the fan but the Longwood Garden photos are spectacular.

  2. Great photos here, Sally. I like the Greenhouse image and then the more abstract ones. Very nice. 🙂

    • Thanks, since we live in such vastly different regions, it’s a pleasure to share our visual landscapes. You, especially have such color to explore. I spend many moons in the Southwest and found it inspirational, Sally

  3. Nico Calavita says:

    I loved the greenhouse fan picture. I don’t know if you put it in together with pictures about nature intentionally, but the contrast, enhanced by the use of black and white, is terrific. But then, perhaps, there is no contrast at all, but only a mirroring of life at the microscopic level, with the regularities, layering, and the helixes of DNAs. At the same time – speaking of layering – there was something about the picture that made me associate it with modern, Bauhaus like, design.
    And thank you for the text as well. I was dreading the arrival of winter. No more. And I envy your close association with the garden and the seasonal rituals that you have created for yourself.

    • I decided that the greenhouse images could not be separated from the rest–nature is growing behind their structures. I’m trying to open my vision to the architecture of our visual field. Your words are eloquent and reach deep inside my meaning. Many thanks, Sally

  4. Tara says:

    Sally, my favorites were the greenhouse fan and autumnal pond III. Beautiful!

  5. ehpem says:

    I really like the fan, but even more so the one beneath it – that oil sheen and the two yellow leaves seem to make that one for me. I do like the last one too, the blue and ‘brown’ areas catch my ey.

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