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Nov 24 2013

Sunday Song: Leaves

It’s the dying time o’ year again. In Seattle and surrounding areas, that means rain, followed by rain, and showers, then some rain, and this is an especially wet fall so we’ve had some rain to go with our rain. When it’s not raining, it threatens to rain, and the sun is a distant memory. Oh, and the leaves were really spectacular and gorgeous, but it was raining, and then before the sun came out, there was some rain with extra-strong wind, and when the sun briefly emerged, most of the pretty leaves were in soggy heaps on the ground, sometimes with the tree still attached.

But there were a few times when the clouds would clear and the sun would glow through the few remaining red and gold leaves, turning them into nature’s own stained glass, and I’d slip out of the building on breaks and snap away furiously, trying to capture that fleeting loveliness that, to me, is the only bloody good thing about this season. Aside from Halloween, of course.

Sunlight through yellow leaf on green hedge.

Sunlight through yellow leaf on green hedge.

I am, however, feeling a bit gothic, what with all the dark gloomy days. So this song will fit the theme for three reasons: firstly, it’s called “Leaves.” Secondly, it’s kind of gothic and gloomy, what with that background and if you listen to the words. Thirdly, in the midst of the gloom, and the leaves, you’ve got something very bright and lovely glowing all over the place. In my photos, it’s the leaves; in this song, it’s Anneke van Giersbergen, who for some reason maintains a bright beaming grin whilst singing about losing someone probably forever.

That’s always intrigued me.

Leaves are kinda like that, too. “Hey, it’s butt-ass freezing cold, and wet, and we’re dying, and we’re all pretty and shiny bright colors, yay!”

Red leaves on gray trunk.

Red leaves on gray trunk.

Arboreal chemistry is really kind of interesting. Someday, perhaps, I’ll delve into my old notes on the subject and write you a treatise on why these riotous colors appear. It was actually fascinating. But right now, I’m supposed to be writing a bunch of geology stuff, so I’d best refrain from biological byways.

Red leaves on gray trunk II

Red leaves on gray trunk II

This is sort of like compensation for the frogs. I miss my froggies. I didn’t get to see many this year – they’d moved to a part of the ditch where they could be better hidden, but I could walk down by the water and I’d hear them go plop as they fled. I am probably not a nice person, but I did like hearing they were there. Too bad I couldn’t do that without scaring the shit out of them.

Red leaves on a gray trunk with little gold flecks and moss.

Red leaves on a gray trunk with little gold flecks and moss.

One of them always screamed, this little gasping cry like a squeak toy, before it jumped. It was my favorite. Now, of course, it’s too cold for them, so when I walk along their ditch I’m left looking at dying plants. Which can be interesting, too, but don’t tend to leap into the water with little squawks of alarm.

Bunch of red leaves against a gray trunk replete with interesting shadows and tiny slivers of blue sky.

Bunch of red leaves against a gray trunk replete with interesting shadows and tiny slivers of blue sky.

One of the things I wish I had more time to do is just stand there and look at things. I mean really look. These unintentional works of art really are remarkable.

Yellow and red leaves against a shadowy green hedge.

Yellow and red leaves against a shadowy green hedge.

On nice (or at least not-sopping-wet) days, I like to take a quick walk to the creek on break. Some days, though, I don’t make it there, because nature has staged an art show.

Branches of red leaves against bright blue sky.

Branches of red leaves against bright blue sky.

In this case, it was a tree that had held on to its leaves in defiance of the wind storm. Some of those leaves were brilliant red.

Detail of red leaves against blue sky.

Detail of red leaves against blue sky.

Some of them were still green. And I wish my camera had been more amenable to the idea of photographing red against green in brilliant sunlight, because it was really remarkable and breath-taking, but my little point-and-shoot couldn’t deal with it. But this will give you an idea of what the whole looked like.

Red and green leaves.

Red and green leaves.

Spectacular.

This season does have its compensations. I just wish they’d last a bit longer…

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Al Dente

    Pretty pictures.

    But right now, I’m supposed to be writing a bunch of geology stuff, so I’d best refrain from biological byways.

    Yeah. We’re on tenderhooks wondering if Mt. St. Helens is going to erupt or not. I’m betting that it does and it’s spectacular.

    1. 1.1
      rq

      Your hooks are already tender? Mine are still tenter. ;)

      1. Al Dente

        That’s right, pick on the guy who can’t spell. All you proper-spelling freaks are just following the arbitrary dictates of Dr. Johnson and Noah Webster, who couldn’t even agree on the spelling of certain words.

        1. rq

          So, your hooks are tender. Gotcha. ;)

  2. 2
    rq

    I was waiting for the leaves to come out – you had so much foliage-porn last year, I thought you must have some this year, too. Love the red colours.
    As for the colour change, if I recall correctly, I think it had to do with the chlorophyll leaching out (dying off?) and the other pigments just showing through – since all these pigments already exist inside the leaf but are overshadowed (overgreened?) by the chlorophyll under ordinary circumstances… Dunno, that’s a bit of a bad-memory-guess. I just remember doing paper chromatographs of birch leaf extract and getting four different pigments out of the mix (two green, a yellow and an orange).

    Just wondering, though, I don’t suppose next time you could combine the geology with the leaves? You know, intersperse that tense, MSH writing with some glorious pictures of fall colour – like commercial breaks, only better… Two-in-one… No? No? No. Okay, fine. :)

    Anyway. It’s nice to read something uplifting and distracting like this post of yours, Dana – so much tragedy this weekend here (TW for mass fatality and collapsed building).

  3. 3
    Trebuchet

    Lovely maples!

    @rq: Oh my. I saw that on Wikipedia and didn’t even stop to think that you are there. Hope you and yours are all right.

  4. 4
    Lithified Detritus

    Beautiful pictures. The leaves here are pretty much done – just a few hanging on here and there.

    rq – Like Trebuchet, I had not made that connection. I hope all is well with you.

    The exchange above caused me to realize that, while I was familiar with the expression, I had no idea what a tenterhook is, or why someone in a state of anxiety should be on them, so I looked it up.

    Between Dana and the commenters, I’m always learning new stuff here!

  5. 5
    rq

    Yes, me and mine are well, thank you!
    And thanks for the info on tenterhooks, I keep meaning to look it up. And now you done it for me, Lithified Detritus!

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