how do you avoid clichés when photographing or describing autumn? the leaves are bright, the air is crisp, the days are getting shorter and the light is getting richer. but after living in Illinois for two years, where fall is, well, disappointing, shouldn’t I have some fresh perspective on the quintessential New England season? what’s so great about it that caused me to miss it so much? what’s it like to be back? well, here are some things.
I like it when the sunlight shines through the canopies of red and orange maples and turn the world below into a warm hue. it’s simultaneously comforting, like being wrapped in a blanket by a warm fire, and unsettling, like you’re a part of some other deep space science fiction novel.
I like that the color is everywhere, not just coming from a few deciduous trees that city planners and residents plant on the suburban grid. in this part of New England, neighborhoods and towns were and are carved into the woods, and the default landscape is a mixture of pine green and reds, yellows, and oranges.
locals here sometimes remark (with a hint of pessimism) that the season is too short, that we better get out and enjoy the color before it’s gone as the next flurry of wind or rain hits, or that the weather this year has made the foliage less impressive than usual. well, this season is actually incredibly long, did you know? the first hints of non-green started showing at the end of August. and even in November when our surroundings look more dull and brown, i think the atmosphere surrounding that particularly brown month is entirely different from the depressing brown of late-winter. the leaves on the ground aren’t totally decomposed yet, Thanksgiving (or Thanks-Taking as my brother calls it) still promotes that autumn-harvesty-cornacopia of potentially-still-local food in your stomach feeling, and you’re not so terrified of winter on its way. without autumn’s transition away from the VITAMIN D PARTY of summer, winter would feel like a cinematic slap in the face. so when the brightest of brights are gone, I’m going to enjoy the lingering brown and rust decomposition that New England autumn still has to offer.