November Monochrome Musings
There is wind where the rose was,
Cold rain where sweet grass was, …
-Walter de la Mare
Now that several consecutive weekend storms have passed, is November anyone’s favourite month?
Hardly! What is there to rave about a month that progressively fades into diminishing light and heat? In most people’s mind, the bridge between fall and winter has us mentally hunkered down in the dark, huddling the furnace with wool socks pulled up to our knees. Folks on the Canadian prairies are content with mere wind and rain but when the white stuff hits the doorstep a touque tops off winter styling in these parts. However, the “in between season” that early winter offers is an important time to pause, reflect and reconnect with nature, ideally, meditatively in a serene and untroubled setting. Often folks abandon these special places over the short days and long nights stretch, thinking that they serve best at the height of summer, ruminating over picnics in daylight that lingers late in the evening, sprinkled with children’s laughter after a park stroll, lolling in heat that does not fade into gradual darkness after 2 PM.
The leaves that haven’t been blown to other prairie provinces have gone monochrome and crunchy, the only sound other than the blustering breeze. No; it is not summer any more but a late fall or winter walk refreshes, invigorates and renews, allows ponder and contemplation. Autumn is but a sweet memory; the malingering, sweet one this fall almost vanquished southern Alberta’s late spring turmoil. We cling to the fading light as the stingy sun holds back more and the days fold into winter, and thank Mother Nature for providing places of respite and reflection before the harrowing days of the pending festival descend upon us.
For more on the goodness of in-between seasons, see:
Fall In The Canadian Shield
If you head north from Montreal, Canada into the land of the Canadian Shield, you will find a world peppered by a young watershed of rivers, lakes, brooks, bogs, streams and trickles, all finding their way interspersed among the land formation of the shield. Rocks are smattered everywhere, occasionally moss-covered and more than occasionally massive boulders, all intermingled with trees gripping the bedrock with fervour. Venturing to this place in autumn has the added spectacle of sapphire blue skies and a ‘scape sprinkled with yellow toned deciduous trees all sandwiched together into complementary colours slathered with red maples and sumacs for added flavour. All of these ingredients located in one place has photographers frenzied, searching the ideal location out of thousands of possibilities, fingers itchy for the trigger. Although the Canadian Shield can be unforgiving in inclement weather but high in drama, the Indian Summer evening, complete with sky action from wispy to dramatic clouds, claims the serene and tranquil category. If you can’t stay for a showy sunset, say, the wide open ones available at Lac Munroe or Lac Superior, then settle for the sweet hour setting rays on most “lacs”, nurture the last warmth of the day as you experiment with filters and exposures, and then trundle off to your cozy fireplace dreaming of the peace offered to the soul by the last quiet days of autumn.
For more on Quebec in the fall see also http://heathersimondsphotography.com/2013/10/21/mont-tremblant-turns-fall-colour/
Living In The Sticks
Some people live downtown, others live on the fringe and a lot of people hang out in between. Those who live outside of these locations, IN THE STICKS, may be chastised for lack of refinement but folks who draw rural breath, smile a wry, knowing smile quietly to themselves.
Living in the sticks does have its benefits but not necessarily the romantic notions that outsiders naively extract – blissful spring sunsets, summer wildflower bouquets, woodsy fall walks, gently falling winter snow. It’s the stuff that affects day-to-day living that has country dwellers smiling. Practical stuff such as: elbow room from the neighbours but close enough to hear the chickens coo and converse as they free range over the boundary; the opportunity to try experimental hobbies without “over the fence” criticism, spoken or not. Maybe, working on your inner farmer, becoming conversant with companion gardening without observational commentary; plants, like humans, get lonely too. If you are the type that doesn’t like to stick things in your ear on a dog walk or you are more apt to turn the dial counter clockwise to reduce the din, then more quietude may be what your country life craves.
Even these joys of living in the sticks can be in a state of flux between seasons. When unwelcome pestilence or unexpected frost snatches those last pea pods, crumples the marigolds, and forces prize sunflowers to cower one final time before falling in defeat, the time has come to seek rural entertainment. Cruising the back roads looking for photographic subjects may suit your artistic fancy, long smothered in the potato patch over the harvest season. Working the scene with a long exposure while the elements play with your patience and digit tips, crafting an otherworld scene out of a scenario passed by a million times. The essence of living in the sticks captured once again.