Falling of the Trees

This is my second post focused on trees during the four distinct seasons in the northern United States. The trees in summer and winter are pretty static – the deciduous trees are green leaved in summer and bare branched in winter. It is in spring and fall that the trees are in transition and change week by week, morphing into what they need to be in winter and summer.

Over the years we have vacationed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in late August and early September. By this time we are very tired of the steamy heat of summer, looking forward to the crisp cool air of fall and the vibrant colors of fall foliage. It is in northern Michigan that we see the first hints of fall color on a single branch of a tree. I look for these as we are traveling down wilderness roads.

The next step in this transition is the yellowing of leaves in the woodlands. This wooded site in Vermont was very familiar to my eyes looking towards fall.

Early September in Vermont

As the yellow leaves mature and start to drop, we begin to see hints of pale red and orange in the landscape.

Hidden Lake Gardens in southern Michigan.

Soon the oranges become dominate adding big splashes of color bordering the fields of corn that is turning golden and brown as it dries for harvesting.

Reflections in the mill pond close to our home.

Then the oranges and reds of the Maples intensify and the oaks start turning a dark red. My favorite scenes are combinations of evergreens and deciduous trees because the evergreens provide a resting spot for my eyes that are overwhelmed by the riot of color.

Of course there are trees that are doing things besides producing a wonderful color show. We have many apple orchards in our area of Michigan and a special fall treat is visiting an apple orchard for freshly picked apples that snap when bitten into.

And soon the leaves begin to fall…

Until they are all on the ground waiting ready to be collected so they don’t smother grass and perennial flowers beneath them.

The trees are left bare, with their wonderful skeletal structure exposed, indicating winter coming very soon after. But that will have to wait until the next post as part of Becky’s tree-square challenge for the month of July.

The Golden Spring

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Golden tree of early spring, at sunset.

I read Robert Frost’s poem¬†Nothing Gold Can Stay way back in my first or second year of college – 53 years ago or so. I’m a bit amazed that I remember it, though vaguely, because I don’t have clear memories of many things that I learned way back then.

Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold…

The impact of this poem has been that I’ve marveled at the golden hue of buds on trees, that haze of gold in very early spring that tells me green is soon to come. The golden mist on the horizon that in a day or two turns to a bright green. Frost was right that the gold of early spring doesn’t stay. But as I reread the poem, now that I’m in my 70’s, I hear a meaning that my 20-year-old brain couldn’t comprehend – at least not emotionally.

…So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.

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I’ve been thinking of the aging process, triggered by the 5-day stay of our grandson and his family. They brought with them a 4 year old very active son and a 2 year old daughter. Zachary is turning 30 this year and they seem to have the same response as I had as I was approaching my 30th birthday – “Boy that seems old.” Allison is a few years behind him.

They have energy and take raising their children very seriously. This makes me very happy because I am the biological great-grandparent of the two year old and love the 4 year old as if he were a biological descendant. We are great-grandparents and we are emotionally invested in our young people and also all the parents and babies in all places.

Having our grandchildren and great-grandchildren in our home really tired us out, but I remember the energy I had as a young parent, to work and to play and to love. I also remember the worry and stress, and the numbing tiredness at the end of the day. Yes, those may have been golden days that quickly passed away, but they weren’t perfect days. There were times when I was eager to have a stage of family life move on into a new one.

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The kids left at noon on Monday to visit Zachary’s maternal grandparents. It didn’t take long for us to ease back into our retirement routine of quietly greeting the morning with a cup of coffee on my purple porch swing, of coming and going as I please. Days of mixing up housework and quilting, reading and knitting, gardening and friends so my body is happy and my soul finds meaning.

Daughter, Carol, asked me when it was that I was able to become “great,” as in great-grandparent. Yes, I do feel great, and I have a lifetime of memories of great times. Maybe Robert Frost was right that nothing gold can last – but maybe he should have added another stanza that addresses the fact that the green of summer that spring gold moves into is just as wonderful.

I wonder what the golden days of my today will evolve into as I continue my spring and summer, fall and winter days. There is a darkness in this poem,

So Eden sank to grief, so dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.

Yes I have grieved the loss of those golden days of young adulthood, but an advantage of having an aged brain is that I am better able to hold the totality of life, the vast continuum of good and bad, within my heart and know that it was what it had to be and I did the best I could with what I was given.

Nerve

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It’s not enough to be nice in life. You’ve got to have nerve.

Georgia O’Keeffe

Happy Birthday, Georgia O’Keeffe. This is the featured quote of the day on Goodreads.

I have seen her original work and it is amazing. She has been an inspiration for my macro photography. If we are going to have role models, let’s pick ones who are truly great.

 

Tehquaminon Falls without Sun

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Upper Falls

Tehquaminon Falls is in the northeast area of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, south of White Fish Point. We went camping in the Upper Peninsula, staying on the shore of Lake Huron, right next to the Mackinaw Bridge – the Big Mac. We were going to visit several sites in the area and the weather was predicted to be unusually hot but sunny all week.

I was excited because I was going to see Tehquaminon Falls in the sun. I have visited many times over the years, and every time it rained. I was firmly convinced that the sun never shines on the falls – even though there is photographic evidence out there that suggests otherwise. I still don’t believe it.

We visited under cloudy skies and walked back to the car in the rain. I didn’t grumble too much, though, because none of my photos had over-exposed areas because of too much sun. Besides, I can still hold on to my dream that someday I will see Tehquaminon Falls in the sunlight.

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Boardwalk to Lower Falls

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Lower Falls

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There you have it. As I was putting this post together I was thinking of how unimpressed I am with water falls. No, that isn’t accurate – I am impressed but I don’t feel drawn to photograph water falls. We have seen hundreds of them, and I have probably photographed 75% but it wasn’t because I was pulled to capture their beauty. I did it because they were there, I had a camera in my hand, and I felt I should to capture the moment. There haven’t been many of those photographs that I feel excited about so I’ll continue to photograph flowers and Michigan landscapes and old barns. Now these are subjects to excite!

And I’m happy to provide these waterfalls for those of you who really,¬†really, like them. Enjoy.