I like the days in late fall when Nature has gone to rest, but winter hasn’t arrived yet.
We should do the same. Instead of denying the approaching darkness by putting up silly lights on dead trees, we should hesitate and contemplate the state of everything around us.
So I will conclude this year with posts and images that have more the character of still lives.
It is time to pay tribute to what we will use for building: tree and stone.
And to be thankful that time is still passing.
This year I tried to explore a few new places that are not more than an hour’s drive away, at the cost of neglecting a few places that are really close, like the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve.
This is wetland, made accessible through slippery boardwalks. The grasses here make even more short-lived art than the sand art made by dune grasses.
Either from the treacherous safety of the board walks, or right from the center of things,
the grasses are at work, through gentle dipping of their stalks, or mere reflection. This is like writing blog posts. Words and images not to be bound between covers and shelved, nor streamed into instant oblivion, but just left there for a little while to wither.
Then, finding the path back out of the forests becomes a possibility, because it is, after all, also only written on water.
State Forests are an ambivalent thing. The designation means they are in possession of the state, and managed as such. This means logging, hunting, fishing, and depending on the extent of the above, the availability of roads and trails for public use.
There are beautiful spots like Pine Lake. The fire tower offers a view of the gypsum mine near Shoals. There is a lot going on underground here.
offer nested views in the past.
The Tank Spring Trail leads to another abondoned place, an old water reservoir.
The sink holes are ready.
One of the fascinating aspects of the DePauw Nature Park is that one can observe who takes possession of this devastated landscape.
A contender (my favorite) is the Sycamore tree.
Even while still little, they make gigantic leaves.
A little older, they begin to show their unruly temperament. This is not a pretty tree for an English Garden. But they show character.
When mature, they become imposing. Their distinctively peeling bark makes me think of ghosts.
Right now, they stand mostly isolated, or against the backdrop of the quarry walls.
But hundreds of little ones are growing, hidden between the shrubs. Let them have this place. They will cause no harm.
Almost a year ago, when there was still hope, I posted a few Fall themed images with the title Yellow. The third image shows a view of McCormick’s Creek with a tree trunk that looked in 2008 like this:
The perspective of the two images is not quite identical, but you will see that in the older image above there are two prominent trees, the right of which has become the trunk in the second image of the image of last year’s post.
Above is another image, from 2009, tree still standing, again from a slightly shifted perspective. The view has always tantalized me, because it looked promising, but I could never turn it into a picture I was happy with. Below is a view from the other side, another year later.
Then, in 2015, this unexpected change:
With the tree reduced to a stump,
the place has become more balanced and serene.
Sometimes it is worth the wait.
This year, times seems to be running faster, as if everything wants it to be over.
The freshly fallen leaves already look like they are from last year. And they don’t even read the news.
This is the game I played, called Still Live, ironically: You walk around and take the leaves as they are. You may remove a stem or piece of dirt, but you may not add.
So one fights against the randomness of every appearance, without creative power, only allowed to select.
This makes for a nice morning walk in the woods, despite.
When I started using an SLR, I had just two lenses: A 28-85mm zoom, and a 20mm wide angle lens. That was too wide for me, back then,
and it took me a while to appreciate it.
When I moved on to a DSLR, one of the first new lenses I bought was Nikon’s 14-24mm zoom. That was something else, and again it took me many years to make use of the wider end of it.
This year, I decided to push myself again, and I acquired an 11mm lens.
This lens works like the news these days: It shows a distorted reality. If you want the truth, look elsewhere.
But, as with the news these days, the distortion is so extreme, that we are never tricked into believing it is real. It is more a provocation.
The benefit? Maybe we can learn to resist to undergo this distortion ourselves. Or is the remaining path too narrow?