Autumn’s Treasury

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I should have brought my camera today but didn’t. Words—inadequate as they are—will have to do. Not that any words, or any paint or fabric or even the catch-all lens of the camera could do justice to autumn color.

The color is at its peak, now. We are at that fragile moment when the trees are ready to display their incandescent loveliness. A wind, a rain, an hour, even—and the moment will be gone. Already, the sidewalks are littered with fallen leaves.

The sun shines behind the Japanese maple this morning, and I have to stop and look and look again and try to remember each detail. The reds in the south don’t achieve the heart-stopping scarlet that is found in northern states, but this Japanese maple surpasses anything I have seen. The sun picks out every spectrum of red—crimson, scarlet, burgundy, orange and even pink. There is the fire of rubies in these leaves and the deeper garnet shades; there is the hot blaze of firelight and the smolder of embers.

I find it hard to move on, but around the corner there are other autumn wonders. Here is a magnolia blooming cheerfully out of season, a carefree, creamy blossom framed by stiff leaves that run from green to shadowed ebony. There are roses, too, insouciant and heedless of cold nights, and a scatter of chrysanthemums that refuse to give up.

How can anyone hope to capture, never mind hold, all that this day offers? It would be wonderful if, on a cold and drear winter afternoon, I could pull out a memory and see it unfold like a panorama. Red, green, cream—and wait—here are a few trees that have not quite decided what to be. Their leaves are a mixture of oranges, yellows, reds and greens. They are taking their time about it, and I have a special empathy for them. Indecision is something I know all about!

And now I come to my favorite spot—a stop under the big tree with the yellow leaves. When I stand under this tree, I am enveloped in gold—a gold that gladdens both heart and senses. Perhaps this tree is the reason I use so much yellow in my own work—there is something about this color that conveys warmth and happiness.

Tomorrow or even later today all this may be on the wane. Leaves will fall, leaving their branches stark and bare. But even those denuded trees will have beauty, a spare elegance of line and form, and that will sustain me through the winter. Today, though, there is the treasury of autumn.

When the cold wind blows

I will remember this day

And be glad again.

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About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: maureen@wartski.org/ My blog is here: https://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/ Or friend me on Facebook!

6 responses »

  1. Oh Maureen; I was transported to the world of light and color that is autumn at its best. Seeing the places you are walking through in your eyes, I am with you completely. Even the beautiful names of the colors that flow out of your writing sets a scene that is jewel like and timeless. I wish the wonder of our natural world would infuse those that seek to destroy Nature’s gifts with the will to savor and save what is left for mere humans to control

  2. Hi Maureen,

    Thanks so much for this post. I love fall colors too. I took a detour today to see two golden trees that are at maximum beauty.

    If you haven’t had a chance to see this post, I strongly recommend it, especially since you like yellows. It’s Tim Livingston’s display of the Fall Gold Rush.
    http://theforesterartist.com/2013/11/01/forestry-friday-the-fall-gold-rush/

    Tim, a forester and artist, recently began posting Forestry Friday each week. I think you’d enjoy his blog.

  3. Thank you, Linda– I LOVED his blog post and all those gorgeous leaves! Yellow really is an incandescent color. My old art teacher used to tell me it was her favorite color, and it has become one of mine, too. Thank you for sharing this terrific blog with me.

  4. I am so happy we have gotten to see the leaves change color before they all dropped their leaves. The array of colors make it seem as if the sun were shining.

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