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Posts Tagged ‘fall’

vine and sky

You can’t hide your true colors as you approach the autumn of your life.

maple leaf mandala in blueIsn’t it odd how the colors of leaves turn warm just as the weather cools?  In art, it’s known that warm colors like red, orange and yellow advance, while cool blues, greens and purples recede.

Could the warm colors be nature’s way of bringing leaves to the forefront so that we can examine and appreciate them one more time before they’re gone?

I’ve often wondered what autumn would look like if the leaves turned cool in color instead of warm?  How would the landscape look with leaves of icy blue and turquoise instead of fiery red and orange?  Perhaps the combination of cooler weather with cool colors would be too much of a shock to us after months of warm summer weather.  The warmer colors are nature’s way of easing us into the cold winter ahead.

sky blues

Unlike the leaves, autumn’s skies turn bluer than usual at this time of year.  Above are excerpts of three of the bluest skies I’ve photographed in the past month.  Each one is such a unique hue.  Who would have thought there could be so many versions of ‘sky blue’ to be found at this time of year?  Nature’s true colors never cease to amaze me.

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autumn through living room window

Sometimes, even when sunny skies beckon, we still have to stay indoors.  Sometimes it’s because there’s house or office work to be done.  Other times, it’s because we’re sick.  Such is the case with me this week with a diagnosis of pneumonia.

From behind glass, there’s still much to see of nature outside.  Trees continue to change colour and some of the vines on the house have turned red and pink.  They adorn the edges of the living room window.  There’s no time like the present to appreciate them as the wind will soon blow them all away.  In the summer months, they make drapes in the window unnecessary and bring nature’s colours up close.

second storey vines

Vines can also be seen from one of the second storey windows.  Although their colours are still bright through the screen, they’re even prettier seen from the outdoors, as in the photo taken on the weekend. 

leaves through front door windowSilhouettes of leaves can be seen trembling in the wind through the glass of the front door’s window as well.  By the time witches and goblins show up at the door in a couple of weeks, they’ll be all gone.

I’ve been so accustomed to stepping outdoors several times a day.  There is something about fresh air and sunshine that makes us feel better just by being outdoors. 

So why do we tend to stay in when we’re sick?  I wonder if perhaps we would recover more quickly outdoors.  The challenge would be to not engage in too much tiring activity. 

From the kitchen window I can see a large snowshoe hare that’s decided to come close.  Its ears are perked and it’s sitting just below the window, posed perfectly still for a photograph.   Sometimes, when you can’t go out into nature, nature knows, and comes to you.

hare from window

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maple leaf mandala

Through the ages, mandalas have been employed by Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Native people the world over to create sacred spaces and focal points for prayer and meditation.

seastone mandalaOften painted, they may also be made of stone, colored sand or stained glass, such as in the rose windows found in Gothic cathedrals. Some, like Tibetan sand mandalas, possess an impermanent quality, as their deconstruction is also part of the ritual surrounding their creation.  Mandalas might be intended as representations of the universe, the unconscious self or the relationship between the inner and outer realms. 

Mine are simple creations made with natural materials found in my yard:  leaves, flowers, twigs and tree cones.  The first mandala shown at the top of this post was made from the colorful leaves of a sugar maple and a yellow birch.  The second was created on my gravel driveway from sea smoothed stones gathered near the ocean.

peony leaf mandala

This peony leaf mandala also includes fern leaves, purple asters and two-flowered Cynthia blooms.  A curled up wooly bear caterpillar is at its centre.

fir cone mandala

Above, heal-all flowers have been arranged with balsam fir cones around a mushroom centre.  The creation of each mandala gave me an opportunity to reflect on autumn’s beautiful colours and textures.  I’m thankful to live in a place where nature’s palette is ever changing and fresh.   

My mandalas will slowly fall apart, be moved by the winds or wild creatures, decay and return to the earth.  Their ephemeral quality only serves to enhance their present beauty.

Have you ever considered using natural materials to create a mandala outdoors?

 

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fungi 10

Fall is an excellent time to see fungi in Nova Scotia’s woods.  Whether growing on the ground or on decaying trees, these life forms are varied, with some species being edible.

fungi

Of the ten types of fungi I managed to photograph in my yard in the past week, I am only confident of the identification of one, the orange jelly at bottom centre which is considered edible if boiled.  Even with the use of an Audubon field guide, I’m still wary of my ability to correctly identify the less colorful varieties.  Despite minute differences, they all look so similar to one another.

Although a distinction is often made between mushrooms and toadstools, with toadstools often considered toxic and with a tapered (as opposed to straight) stalk, there is no scientific basis for this.  The edibility of mushrooms is best determined by experts rather than through trial and error.  The adage that there are old mushroom pickers and bold mushroom pickers, but no old, bold mushroom pickers is probably true. 

fairy rings and toadstools by richard doyle

Due to the poisonous and hallucinogenic nature of some fungi, they have often been given magical properties in art and literature.  Faeries and gnomes are frequently depicted beside toadstools as in the 19th century painting of Fairy Rings and Toadstools (shown above) by Richard Doyle.  I once came across one of these ‘fairy’ rings in my yard.  They originate in the growth of fungi around the outer edge of the decaying underground roots of old trees.  It seemed pretty harmless in the light of day, but who knows what magic transpired in its midst during moonlit nights.

fungi with copper pennies

Copper penny test to determine toxicity of mushrooms as per Wind's comment

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caterpillar traffic

Traffic along the boardwalks and pathways leading to and from the seashore is slow enough for caterpillar crossings these days.

beckoning waters

It may be October, but the beach is still open to visitors despite the absence of tourists and high temperatures.  Sparkling waters beckon beyond the sand dunes.

rainbow haven beach

On such a quiet morning, it’s hard to imagine this beach covered with human flesh baking in the summer sun just a couple of months ago.  The scene is peaceful and quiet, except for the roar of the waves.

sand sea and sky

The sand, sea and sky all work together to create a vista that’s refreshing and uplifting.  The sea breezes still feel soothing on the face and the sand is still warm on the feet.    

warm feet

irish moss at rainbow haven beach

Waves continue to make their deliveries of Irish moss onto the shore.  Also known as carrageenan, this sea moss is raked along some beaches in Nova Scotia.  It’s used as a thickening agent in many foods, including coffee cream and ice cream.

playing in the sand

Hot temperatures aren’t a prerequisite for children to enjoy playing in the sand.  Their needs are simpler than ours.  Wherever did we get the notion that beaches are only to be enjoyed in the summer time?

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yellow foliageSunny yellow foliage is making its appearance on the Nova Scotia landscape.  Birches, poplars and tamaracks all transform into bright gold at this time of year.  Hot summers will often turn the leaves a dry brown before they have a chance to become yellow, but this summer’s plentiful rains and cooler temperatures promise golden hues this fall.

Some areas of the countryside change colour before others.  Some transformations from green to yellow are gradual, while others seems to magically happen overnight.

In the woods, toadstools have popped up in shady spots under trees.  There is quite a variety of them in the maritime woods, but the yellow ones are especially eye-catching and pretty.  I’m not sure if the ones in the photograph below are Yellow Patches or Yellow-orange Fly Agaric.  Both are considered inedible. 

toadstools and goldenrod

Golden rod flowers are still in bloom although many have now turned a dull brown.  They’ve been a sign heralding the end of warm days since I was a child.  Perhaps they steal and absorb the last bits of sunshine, keeping the final rays of warmth in their roots until spring.

yellow ribbon

Like many families with loved ones on tour, a yellow ribbon is displayed in the front yard.  My son Kip arrived in Afghanistan this past week.  The yellow ribbon is a reminder to keep him and other troops in thought and prayer during their period of deployment.  We look forward to his safe return in the spring.

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite tender sky,
The ripe, rich tints of the cornfield,
And the wild geese sailing by;
And all over upland and lowland,
The charm of the golden rod; —
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

~ Willian Herbert Carruth

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