Bright and intense and beautiful

Taken on my daily walk in our York neighborhood, November 2008

Taken on my daily walk in our York neighborhood, November 2008

“Fall colors are funny. They’re so bright and intense and beautiful. It’s like nature is trying to fill you up with color, to saturate you so you can stockpile it before winter turns everything muted and dreary.”Siobhan Vivian

That’s what I do on my walks; stockpile the colors and images and cool, smoke-scented air.  No matter how often I see the autumn foliage, it always dazzles me.  No matter how many photos I take, I always want to take more.  I keep all these lovely digital and mental photos and sounds and scents in my mind as a sort of second line of defense against the sad and scary thoughts that keep getting past my psychological fortress.  I can’t use the coming winter as an excuse for stockpiling, though, because I do the same with spring flowers.  I replenish and tap into my stockpiles of cheer, serenity and joy all year long.

Still, I think the fall holidays have grown ever more festive because they ease us into the coming months of cold weather and short, gloomy daylight.  I love the way the winter solstice sneaks in there right before Christmas, when merriment and frantic busyness are at a fever pitch.  By the time the celebrations of the season have passed, we can perk ourselves up with the thought that the darkest day has come and gone, and every day that passes brings a longer time between sunup and sundown.

Meanwhile, though, we still have a few weeks to go before December.  Grab every clear day you can, and make some mental and digital photos of the way the sunlight electrifies the vivid fall palette.  Which colors are your favorite mood-booster?


  1. singleseatfighterpilot

    Brilliantly Red Maple.

    • Hi Eric, believe it or not, those trees in the photo are crape myrtles, which are planted on all the medians in our neighborhood (pictured recently on this blog in this photo). Until we moved here I had no idea there were crape myrtles that would turn bright scarlet in fall. They have them planted all over the parking lot at Kroger’s and when the sun is shining through them, it’s stunning. I do love the Red Maple and wish we had one. Jeff and I have talked about planting one in the front yard but never have gotten around to it.

      • By the end of your reply it seemed like you were understanding my three words were in answer to your blog question, rather than an attempt to identify the shrub-like trees in the photo.

        • Actually, I didn’t – I’m glad you enlightened me! I knew you were fairly sharp at identifying trees, so I wasn’t sure what your answer meant. I’m a bit “zoned” today, as I often am when I’ve spent most of the past 24-48 hours in hospital settings! But I agree with you, that Red Maple color is my pick of them all.

  2. Fall is my favorite season! I love all the color -sans the pollen! 🙂

    • Yes, it does seem to have so many advantages over all the other seasons, lovely though they are. I hope you have a beautiful autumn!

  3. merry

    Fall is a beautiful season. We can find beauty in all seasons. But fall is so vivid.

    • That’s true, Merry. Even the scents and sounds and tastes are vivid! I hope you are having a beautiful autumn.

      • merry

        yes. the trees are lovely in SE OK. Praying for you, Jeff and Matt. Hope Matt is coming through his ordeal in the hospital.

        • Merry, Matt is home now and doing well. Overall they were pleased with their findings, but the advise us to go ahead with the open heart surgery (which will be Matt’s 5th) after Jeff completes this phase of his cancer treatment. Probably that will mean Matt’s surgery will come sometime between January and March. We so appreciate your prayers! I thought I believed in prayer before, but I have never depended on it so continuously for so long. I hope you have a lovely Sunday tomorrow!

          • merry

            Julia, so glad Matt is ok for now, to give you a little breathing room. during Jeff treatment. blessings.

            • Thank you Merry, we were happy that the doctors seemed pleased with his condition, all things considered. Thanks for being on this journey with us.

  4. Sheila

    Julia, it amazes me how different the crape myrtles look depending on the season. I love the contrast of the red next to a yellow next to orange. We are going to Bristol on Wednesday and I’m more excited than usual, about the drive, knowing the mountain foliage will be so beautiful. We need to take a camera!

    • YES, by all means do take a camera! Are you referring to Bristol, Virginia? We drove down to Nashville through Bristol in late October 2011 – we had planned to take the Blue Ridge Parkway for a good part of the way, but a huge section of it was CLOSED due to snowfall! So I hope you will not run into any of that. It is really gorgeous at this time of year. I know New England gets all the press, but I don’t see how it could be any prettier than some of the foliage we’ve seen in other places, particularly in mountainous regions.

      • Sheila

        Bill’s dad lives in Bristol, Tennessee ….. the other side of the street! 🙂 I love the Blue Ridge Parkway, too. I think the lower speed makes the drive so conducive for enjoyment, to take in the beauty, and RELAX.

        • That’s right Sheila, I remember your telling me that. I had just forgotten. I hope you will have a beautiful trip down the Parkway!

  5. Jenelle

    There is something so happy about bright orange, yellow and deep vivid red trio that makes me smile every time I pass a changing tree. I know those colors are cliché, but I just can’t help it! If I had to pick just two, it would be orang and red. Trees look like they’re on fire!

    • Yes, those fiery colors really do perk up the landscape and add interest to the overall scene. I agree with you; those bright colors (especially the reds) are my favorites.

  6. Jan Goodard

    Fall is one of my favorite seasons (spring) is the other. You can see God in the magnificent colors and smell His essence in the scents.

    • Spring and fall are my favorites, too. Until 2004 we had lived far west of here, where the seasons were less distinct, and I came to feel that spring was my favorite. But as soon as we came back to the east coast and experienced our first real autumn in many years, I realized fall was still my favorite.

  7. This time of year I am always reminded of one of my own poems I’ve written (a favorite of mine–something we poets call a “gift poem” because it just fell onto the page and needed very little editing). I debating on sharing it here because it seemed like shameless self-promotion, and because I worried it might not fit the tone of the entry. BUT I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days and I think it does say (like your Maya Angelou poem you quoted today) to “fight against the dying of the light” in some ways. SO I share it here for you.

    “Why the Leaves Turn”

    When all is dull and dreary
    and we are surrounded by death and decay
    there is still that last burst—
    that last splash—
    of color
    like a male bird
    desperately flashing his plumage
    for a mate.
    Nature was not meant
    to die quietly
    in shades of gray.
    This fall,
    the fall of deciduous,
    is the tumult into fire
    where the blood blisters forth
    in one last scream
    of reds and yellows and oranges
    before all is buried
    under the hush
    of the first snow.

    • I LOVE IT and I really appreciate your sharing it with us! Its theme reminds me of a poem I wrote a few years ago (titled “November”) which I don’t have the guts to share here — it feels too personal — so I am thankful that you stepped out to share this one. (Maybe I’ll email you my poem 🙂 but for now let’s just say that it’s meant to be a metaphor for growing older.) I love the Dylan Thomas poem you referred to here; it gave me a sort of fixation on the villanelle as a form, and I wrote a couple of those just for the sheer challenge of it (though not the one I refer to here). The Thomas poem, and the one you shared with us here, are even more meaningful as I watch my own parents age. Thanks again!

      • You’re welcome! This is one of the few poems I’ve had published over the years, but it really strikes a cord with most people that read it. I always think of it this time of year (more than any other poem I’ve written, this one returns to me). I would love to read some of your own poetry. Feel free to e-mail it if you like. 😉

  8. Such a pretty neighbourhood. It’s so tidy! You get far more colour than we do. When people think Canada, you might think Maple Leaf. Yet, they don’t naturally appear in a Prairie Forest. It’s mostly Aspen and Spruce in our river valley in Edmonton. Lots of gold and strategically placed burst’s of Red in private yards. LOL, you probably know MY favourite Mood Booster. A couple of days ago, Marlene at ‘In Search Of It All’ did a post on colour analysis and told me Aqua is an emotional colour….it must be true!

    • I have always loved aqua, but mostly associated it with the memories of the brightly lit underwater surfaces of our family’s swimming pool. I have come to have a whole new appreciation of it through you, and can never see the color now without thinking of you! It does fit you to a tee – emotional, yes, but also lively, mood-boosting, sensitive and calming.

      • ((( Julia ))) you brighten my day more than you know. Always kind, warm and generous. I’m so thankful for you xK

        • I feel the same! Thank you.


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