Signs of autumn are teasing me into believing that we might see a more steady change in the weather soon. The endless summer of Tennessee seems ready to loosen its muggy grip. My annual trip to Colorado to paint the glorious riot of aspen trees raises my hopes that the colors here will reveal themselves soon.
I would be lying if I did not admit that the end of whining mosquitoes and scratching chigger bites is cause enough for a celebration. But there is more. We are poised to begin the eight months of plein painting in the South that we outdoor painters live for. The trees in autumn are a feast for our palettes after the endless greenery of the mid year. The weeks will fly by as the golden, coral tipped sugar gum and hackberry turn and drop their leaves, then replaced by flamboyant maples. Finally, the red oak and sycamore hang on to the end, their last leaves mixed with the cool pastel branches of their defrocked neighbors. It is then that the reign of the cedars begins to mark the approach of the winter solstice. How can you beat that?
I always loved the fall, but now as I try to paint it, I ache at how fleeting it is. A group of us recently attempted to paint the harvest moon. This October moon is the one closest to Earth during the whole of the year. We waited until the moment we could see the first spark of the moon as it appeared at the ridge of the hills. It was a clumsy exercise, like the first attempt at kissing. The waiting seemed endless until the important moment arrived. Then we were locked in an intense focus, followed by furious fumbling with equipment. There was no skill or elegance in the execution; the result unimportant. But the memory of the whole experience is now permanently imbedded in each of us. It is breathless moments like these that are full of grace. More awkward than anything but oh so full.
I hope my heart skips a beat at the beauty of this season as it unfolds again. I will have my paints with me. I hope you can pause during this miracle of nature and get some of it too.