November 9, 2014

Fall's Luminous End

Yesterday morning I woke to a landscape lightly dusted with snow, the first of the season. By midday, with a little sun, the snow was gone, but it remained brightly shining on the distant White Mountains. Although it's not officially winter by the calendar, November is a month of transition toward it. 

The landscape has turned to gray with the hillsides bare of leaves; even the greens of conifers appear grayed. But many dried plants still carry light within them, even on a dull day. When I look out my windows, the tall dried grasses are swaths of warmth, and when the sun appears––only occasionally in November––they become luminous.

The crisp grasses sparkle with points of light....

....and they look especially vivid against a dark backdrop of woods.

There are wildflowers that look especially beautiful in the fall. The forms of milkweed pods have an architectural simplicity.

The seedhead of goldenrod glows white; the dark knobs left of black-eyed susan absorb light.

Flowers in the perennial border are long gone, but some plants still enchant with the color of their dried leaves. Amsonia turns a rich shining yellow.

I am ending with the black dried leaves of Baptisia. In Western culture black signals death, but these leaves are so unique in their coloration that they have a special beauty. They ask us to take pleasure in all phases of nature's journey, from the rebirth of spring through the suspension of life during winter.


  1. Aahhhh as you say enjoy it all. I do. I look forward to this time of year. You have a beautiful view of those mountains. Lots of frost here but no snow yet.

  2. YES.
    Luminous is the word.

  3. Thanks for the nice comments, Lisa and JBS.