Thursday, November 3, 2011
Misty Autumn Morning and An Encounter With The Mysterious Phenologist
It was a cold, misty morning. I bundled up with Raffi and we set out into the deep russet red of the November woods, camera in hand, hoping to capture the last firey colors before they blow away. Autumn is so short and precious...blink twice and you might miss it.
My heart was pounding as we entered the forest. Surely, this is the absolute height of color for the year. Copper leaves spilled everywhere, fluttering and spinning through the air.
We came to the hunter's lookout that was put up in the summer.
Behind it, thick fog curling around tree tops.
The little wild daisies on the roadside were a pale contrast to all the deep vivid colors. They were wilting and wet with dew, but still holding on.
Sometimes, when I'm leaning close to take a picture of brittle weeds and brush, I wonder if anyone else who walks by thinks they are pretty like I do.
And did anyone else notice the charm of this cluster of inky mushrooms?
It was impossible to avoid the wet muck of these tire tracks, glistening with puddles full of leaves. But who can bother caring about muddy shoes when the world looks like this?
Raffi was asleep by now in his carrier, his hands folded neatly and his chest rising and falling against mine. I was filled with happiness, realizing that I was finally doing it...I was finally sharing this season with my very own child. I have longed for this for so many years!
I continued down the path, the tall trees reaching into the mist on either side. The only sound was my sneakers crunching in the leaves.
We passed the skinny trees, as I call them...they look odd and interesting in every season, but especially now, so bare, like a bunch of matchsticks someone shoved into the ground.
And somewhere along the way, I spotted him. The phenologist. Walking down the path, his hands behind his back, the faint sweet scent of pipe tobacco smoke trailing behind him.
He walked slowly, taking in the colors, noticing the wilting daisies, the roadside weeds, and the inky mushrooms, just like me.
Or...was it just an old man?
In my imagination, he is the phenologist. Noticing all the little seasonal changes. Jotting down careful notes in a little book that is falling apart with age. Drawing sketches of plants and insects. Taking photographs of the first green spears of wild garlic in March and stopping in his tracks to listen to the crow's lonely caw in December.
As we stepped out of the forest, I turned back to look at the red tree tops, and thought of the phenologist, whose heart is one with mine.