As I write this, we are awaiting an afternoon of rain here in Scranton. I took a walk around the neighborhood this morning and profited from the even light of the cloud cover. Come walk with me.

Figure 1. Scraggly autumn vanguard. Photo: author.

The looming, threatening sky puts me in mind of rather later autumn, and that subjective sensation was doubled by this scraggly vanguard of autumn (figure 1), a maple that’s turned and given up its leaves far before most trees here have even begun turning. I seem to recall especially late autumns in Providence. I’m not sure why; I’ve lived in many other places with autumn trees like this.

Figure 2. Abattoir. Photo: author.

I ‘spose people have a right to fell a tree that’s not in good health—this one (figure 2), felled long ago, was rotted out inside, a widow-maker in the making. But there’s something about the casual, even contemptuous way the sections of the trunk have been left to rot that makes me think of this as a tree abattoir. There are a few delicious looking cuts there. But most of all I was struck by the rusty color of the exposed wood grain, which is something else, and the mystery hole under the big central log.

Figure 3. Wood cacade. Photo: author.

The abattoir held within it this wood cascade. Now, I would like to apologize to everyone in the whole world for this image, which is grimly out of focus. All of it. My footing was not entirely stable, and my hand shakes with age at the best of times. And the exposure was longer than it should have been because of the clouds. But I include it here as an aide mémoire that I must come back here, maybe after a snow, WITH A TRIPOD.

Figure 4. Hydrangeal cascade. Photo: author.

Even I, a barbarian from the west, know that these flowers (figure 5) are not hydrangeas. Yet they are assuredly ‘hydrangeal,’ and they merit inclusion here because they are a glorious cascade of soft puffs down into crisp focus. The odd bits of yellow autumn color are merely sauce for the goose.

Figure 5. Bitsies. Photo: author.

These bitsies, on the other side of the street from the abattoir, caught my eye. Unpromising at first sight (I am addicted to stronger colors), I thought after a moment that there’s no reason they should not make a nice image as a close-up in the wide angle lens I was using. It is possible you will notice and admire my diagonal composition. But then again, it’s possible you’ll choose not to.

Figure 6. Stacked autumnal colors. Photo: author.

Were I the type to sacrifice more for my “art,” I’d have ventured into the poison ivy to get a closer image of these yellow numbers against the sumac (or “shumac,” as Frank Lloyd Wright styled it). Happily, the magic of technology goes a little way toward compensating my laziness: I toned down (literally) the sky with a comparatively strong vignette.

After an hour of writing, the first shower of rain has come and gone. The humidity is very high, though it’s bearable because the temperature is only in the mid 60s.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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