My memory of Septembers in Northeast Ohio are of crystal skies, softly filtered sunlight and lengthening shadows, a month as temperate as its equinox implies. The image here, taken September 8th, 2012, as I walked the center path of Squire Valleevue Farm’s eastern meadow depicts a very different month, a portent of seasonal change. Stratocumulus clouds on the trailing edge of a cold front swept through that morning auguring an early winter. And in a moment of nature imitating art, the landscape bore resemblance to layers stacked in a Rothco painting, a study in color, horizontals and horizons.
This was the rare and restive September day with uncharacteristic temerity, an abruptness and “matter of factness” foreshadowing change, where the transition of seasons is rarely subtle. Even September with its few discordant days, skies prematurely brooding and bracing, the meadow waiting, a renascent source for life through each season. And still, most of the month a contrast, a nostalgic time when tall meadow grass makes its final surge then rests weary upon itself. Blue asters, tenacious through their last days, liatris and ironweed bending reluctantly, folding and fading, their roots and rhizomes anchoring the meadow through time.
I’ve often thought September in Cleveland to be a mix of memories and wistful, melancholic longings for another place or for past friends and family. The barn, its weathered sides and growing clefts reminding us of changes ahead; each season – life’s measure and mystery.
“Still Point” 16″x24″ Collector’s Edition of 10 C.G. Baker, 2020
Is there anyone who hasn’t tired of the myriad reed and grass photos, most composed in early morning mist or afternoon fog? As a child, over 60 years ago, I recall a black and white photo from “Life” magazine featuring reeds reflecting on a smooth lake. With my mother’s hand-me-down camera I wasted lots of film and her patience trying to replicate that image in a neighbor’s pond. Amateurish would be a very generous description of those photos. Ever since, I’ve shied away from the reed pictures that have seduced infinite photographers and generated infinite images. The few I’ve attempted have been unoriginal at best.
With that preamble I succumbed to temptation this afternoon when I spotted this array of marsh grass at the far end of Schweitzer’s marsh. Today’s fog diffused the light making for ideal conditions to capture the subtlety of color. It also provided the unlikely possibility of finding something new in a hackneyed subject. A small, single reed in the foreground adds dimension and lends perspective. This image draws my attention for some reason – the geometry possibly but as much the color transitions from reflections on the surface.
See what you think. It may be nothing more than the addled effects of the years on me.
“Like to the blackbird at break of day arising”
“Like to the blackbird at break of day arising … “
“Like to the blackbird at break of day arising … “The title, inspired and only slightly corrupted, was appropriated from a line in Shakespeare’s 29th sonnet:
Like to the lark at break of day arising,
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
This is a companion to the marsh image (“Schweitzer Marsh, April Sunrise”) posted three days ago. The sun, still diffused by early mist, was only about twenty minutes above the horizon.
Returning from its winter migration, a redwing blackbird poses atop a pin-oak remnant, his song rising celestially in its distinctive timbre and the bubbling beauty of its chiming chords.
My preoccupation with geese traces to childhood and the scarcity of what now has become abundant. This is the second in a series. Note, the gander trails the female always protecting his territory.
What works (I think) about this image is the context (marsh sedge in the foreground) and the center focused composition.
Late September and early October in northeast Ohio are warm in hue … landscapes changing subtly each day. Summer’s decedents, some lost in shadow, others flame. Field grasses disappearing in the moment; ironweed, goldenrod slowly burning until extinguished.
Seed-heads across Squire Valleevue Farm stand in relief against a background of goldenrod, asters and late meadow grasses, many verdant until a frost.
I do not know what grass or weeds these may be but I see them here every year before their seeds scatter on autumn winds.
Autumn brings to mind the last stanza of Robert Frost’s poem “Reluctance”