The days of blazing colors have passed in these parts. Now we have mostly gloomy days punctuated by rains and snows. One sees winter about to arrive. There is, of course, a different kind of beauty in the winter, and in the weather that serves as its harbinger.

Figure 1. Ecdysiast oak. Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

Winter, apart from snowscapes, is very much about skeletal outlines of trees against the sky. Some trees have more attractive figures than others, as is the case with what I call the ‘ecdysiast oak,’ so named from its habit of flashing provocative views of its trunk behind its twisted branches: a sort of arboreal Sally Rand. Now, of course, in keeping with modern times, nothing is left to the imagination (figure 1).

Figure 2. Oh deer! Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

Deer abound in the woods around Marywood. They are not immune to the lure of frosty grass which here, at about 8:00 am, reveals their tracks in the early morning (figure 2). Every so often you’ll see a divot where one took a mouthful of grass.

Figure 3. Photographer tracks. Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

In physics there’s a result that the observer always affects the thing observed. Here I looked back, prompted by the loud crunching sound as I walked, and saw my tracks effacing the deers’ (those of the deer?). The tracks were crisp as though in snow (figure 3).

Figure 4. Tree line and altocirrus. Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

This was taken from a parking lot and it indeed took a lot to avoid populating my image with light posts. There are actually many speck-y birds in this image if you look closely (figure 4).

Figure 5. Ecdysiast oak in reflection. Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

Shields Hall has some of the arts in it, and some arts, too, in a gallery. The architect intended that there be an eternal art hung on the outside of the structure in the images reflected by the mirrored glass (figure 5).

Figure 6. Silver birch. Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

A freeway runs exactly along the northern edge of the University, mercifully almost entirely effaced and silenced by a berm that runs the length of the contact. Climbing that berm one finds many beautiful silver birches which are, as near as I can tell, all volunteer trees. This lovely double trunk was irresistible (figure 6).

Figure 7. Pin oak. Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

The most beautiful autumn tree I personally know is a wondrous northern pin oak in somebody’s front yard in Omaha, Nebraska (figure 8). It produces astounding purple leaves which flash red in transmitted light. It’s like wine on an oak tree. One of its cousins, with its leaves still fixedly pinned to the branches, lives at Marywood (figure 7).

Figure 8. Glorious pin oak (on the right). 50th and Cuming, Omaha, NE. Photo: author.

The final neat composition I found this morning was a series of densely planted what-is-it bushes that screen Shields and the adjacent parking lot from one another (figure 9).

Figure 9. Serried row of screening bushes. Marywood University, Scranton, PA. Photo: author.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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