a leaf

October is true Autumn. In September there can still be heat waves, and in November the threat of snow becomes more than idle rumor. In New England, on average, October is the most beautiful month, and the best one for walking.

Photo on 10-25-15 at 3.26 PM

I found this leaf, and many like it, one street down from where I live. I brought it home to photograph it, knowing that the inadequacies of my computer and iPad to capture the true colors. The front of the leaf is Autumn on display; brown and green, the umber so many leaves end up, and a few Abstract Expressionist blotches of yellow to remind you what it looked like on the tree a few days ago.

Photo on 10-25-15 at 3.32 PM

The underside is another matter. So pale, but not redolent of the tree in full bloom. These leaves seem to hint at snow ahead, a whitish color that I had to stare at to decipher. I decided that it is not green, and if it were, it would be a blue-green, a phthalo green, whitened almost to the point of invisibility. Hints of brown and yellow shone through from the other side, but this side was ghostly, perfect for Halloween. They might almost glow in the dark.

After some scrutiny, I decided that the pale side was not green, but blue, again, in the phthalo spectrum. It was overcast outside, with only flashes of sun, and still in the way that says Nature is bracing for a storm. Inside I tried photographing it on the black surface of my drawing table: okay for the top, if a bit overexposed, but the underside washed out. On the whitish surface of my desk at least the shadows were visible. Photography can be as inexact as any of the other visual arts.

It is this time of year when the world seems the most intensely visual. Spring is emphatic and joyous; it is movement and growth. In Autumn things slow down, and contemplation is easier. (Summer and Winter are two forms of torpor.) New leaves opening in Spring might make me pause for a moment and smile, but only an Autumn leaf can make me pick it up and take it home.


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