How I Found Beauty in Late Autumn

Even when your surroundings seem depressing and grim, there is still some beauty to be found within.

On Friday, I was understandably depressed. Winter was beginning to swallow up the land in her icy grip once more, and soon hazardous mounds of snow would be everywhere. (If you’re not sure why I say snow is hazardous, try driving in it sometime.) Feeling slightly morose in the face of yet another protracted winter, I decided to go on a photo walk to try and capture the general bleakness and ugliness of the day. The sun’s recent habit of giving me less and less hours of sunlight per day — combined with the fact that everything was dying — was not exactly a cheery outlook.

There was no denying it. The climate was, as stated above, understandably depressing — but this time I did something different. I decided to channel that through my photography. I wanted to capture sheer unadulterated decay and death… of the plant variety, at least. This was my plan for catharsis.

Failure to Be Melancholic

Last Red Chokeberries

Unfortunately, after reviewing the ten photos worthy of release, I realize that I have utterly failed in my task. The resulting pictures actually make my surroundings look almost poetic in their late-Autumn slumber. Something inside of me, some impulse, just couldn’t stand the idea of releasing a truly depressing album of photos to you all. When I find the part of me that didn’t like this idea, I think I’m going to interrogate it and teach it a thing or two about sheer gloom. I mean, shouldn’t all creative people be allowed to enter deep melancholy sometimes, so their most pathetic whims might be expressed?

Of course, I’m joking. Certainly some people may think that severe negative emotions may be a kind of inspiration, but that hasn’t been true for me. In my case, such negative emotional states inspire complete inaction — not art. However, I can only speak for myself. I encourage you to find out what’s true for you, though I suspect this is true for you, as well. In any case, beauty began to rear its stubborn head, and I soon entered…

The Flow State

Once again, I realized how useful is to be in a state of flow while practicing photography. As I’ve stated before, flow is the optimal creative state, and working in the flow allows the unconscious mind to have a more active role in creation. This time, the flow state led me to a Chokeberry tree nearby. The tree was almost entirely unappealing and lifeless except that some of the chokeberries, though now pitted with black spots, still remained on the tree. These weren’t just chokeberries. Even though they had blackened pits, they were the last remaining echo of summer. Using what I learned at the river a few months prior, I was able to isolate the berries within my depth of field and leave everything else out of focus.

I also stumbled upon a mossy tree that curved in such a way as to suggest a Yin Yang symbol, the symbol for dynamic equilibrium. How appropriate that as we plunge into winter, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere of Earth, I find the symbol of perfect balance within my dying surroundings. In many ways, the darkness of winter is similar to the darkness of the yin area within a yin-yang symbol. Conversely, the white yang area could be taken to symbolize summer, the brightest time of the year. These opposing seasons are rooted together and balance each other just as the yin-yang does.

The Insect Skull Stem

Insect-like Pine Tree Stem

Perhaps the most surprising subject that I photographed was a particularly oddly-shaped, undeveloped pine tree twig. Its shape was similar to an insect head or even a spaceship armed with deadly weapons from hundreds of light-years away. You should see the large size of the picture to really appreciate how truly weird this twig thing was since it cannot be adequately described in words.

A Silver Lining

As I hinted above, I’m glad my plan to capture sheer unadulterated decay failed miserably. I would rather find a silver lining to winter than to dwell on the negative cycle of death and falling asleep. If you forget everything else about this story, remember this: Whenever it seems that only death and sadness surround you, you can always find a bright spot, you just have to be committed to find it.

When was the last time you found the beauty in your own personal autumn?

Photos from this trip are in the Plunge into Winter album. All photos in the Gallery can be used as desktop wallpapers because they are high resolution (1920×1440) just as the fullscreen & widescreen wallpapers are.

3 bits on How I Found Beauty in Late Autumn

  1. Yes, there is something about the winter months that can really get to you. No matter what I am always cold, and it gets dark so quickly it is easy to feel depressed. Maybe I need a sun light. But at the same time, it makes things perfect to try new places and things – More place to cuddle up inside in. I just found a new coffee house that I am in love with, only locals. And it’s lovely!

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  3. We went for a long walk in the late autumn frost yesterday and it was beautiful, though it would have been easier if the paths hadn’t all been covered with frosty frozen leaves…

    your twig thing in the photo is pretty weird, you’re right.

    Crafty Green Poet´s last blog post..Sugar Radif up at the Ghazal Page