Colours, cooler temperatures and lots of leaves to crunch underfoot — these are some of my favourite things about autumn. I don’t do well in the hot and humid summers we typically get, although this year’s wasn’t bad at all, to my great relief. When the thermometer’s hitting 32 degrees Celsius or 90 Fahrenheit, and the humidity’s also that high, summer can be like walking around in a steam bath. A lot of people become ill in those summers, and I’m invariably hiding inside to avoid throbbing migraines brought on by the blazing sunshine and heat. I start to relax when Autumn sets in.
There’s something so cozy about our Autumns, snuggling into a toasty sweater or hoodie and strolling along hiking trails or through farm markets. As soon as pumpkins show up, I’m bringing home four or five in different colours to decorate our front porch, and I start cooking hearty stews and baking cakes to have with a cup of hot tea.
Southern Ontario has been blessed with glorious fall colours this year. That isn’t always the case; what’s needed are
cold snaps (without frost, according to experts) to tell the trees that winter’s coming and it’s time to stop producing the green chlorophyll pigment which produces energy from sunlight and settle into their dormant winter state, and
enough rainfall to nourish the trees so that they keep their leaves long enough for the other pigments to shine once the chlorophyll disappears.
Normally we southerners have to go farther north in our province to see such vivid colours, and in many years the leaves are all on the ground by Halloween, which is fun to walk around in but a little depressing. We’re not guaranteed such splendour, and when I was out taking these photos, a lot of other people were out making the most of the beauty as well.
This October, Mother Nature had her entire palette out.
Moving into November, the trees were about half-bare, creating a fabulous carpet of crisp fallen leaves to walk around on. It’s a simple pleasure, but a profound one, and the first few leaves on the ground every year are a harbinger of autumn pleasures.
Once the leaves start to fall, we get to appreciate the sculptural art of the plants themselves. The mottled bark of some trees…
…the colours and shapes of giant leaves as they pack up for the winter…
…ripened berries offering food for birds and animals that winter here…
…the mellower autumn sun highlighting the shapes of plants getting ready for sleep…
So for those of you who don’t have the magic of Autumn on your doorstep, I hope these images will give you a little virtual taste of it.
All photos are by me and all rights are reserved. A selection of my best photos are available for purchase in a number of formats on my site at Fine Art America.
This week we’ll look at signs that touch you on an emotional level. They may make you chuckle, scratch your head, feel a pang, feel trepidation or its opposite, relief, or even make you hungry/thirsty (often because of where they’re located).
The photo below reminds me of a fantastic place where we had breakfast in Ireland. We’d missed the breakfast slot at the hotel, but the front desk staff recommended this place on a local farm, whose name refuses to stick in my head. However, I can always bring up this photo with the place name thoughtfully imprinted on bags in which to cart off loaves of their fresh, crusty bread.
Our lodge deep in the Amazon jungle along the Madre de Dios river, served up a wild assortment of irresistible cocktails. I believe I tried the Anaconda 🙂
On a trip into eastern Ontario last fall, when the pandemic situation on our province was still largely contained, we visited a farm market that’s famous in the area but danged hard to find, even with a GPS. We’re glad we persevered, though — a dazzling assortment of homemade and gluten-free products listed on the sign behind the counter. We’d tucked a cooler in the back of our pickup truck in case there was anything we wanted to come home with; we filled that up and stuffed a couple of paper bags full of fruits and vegetables in between the golf clubs on top of that!
A little libation of the colonial variety with a flight of beer, helpfully labelled, at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.
Something every hot and thirsty traveler wants to see, a roadside stand offering fresh tropical fruit juice.
Signs of delight
I loved this bumper sticker so much I had to take a photo of it, in the town of Sleepy Hollow in New York State.
Knowing is half the battle 😉
A hiking trail through some woods had a section created especially for all children of all ages.
This vervet monkey in Kenya clearly needed its morning java.
Clearly this fellow would be the solution to all of life’s problems 😉
Of the ‘what the heck’ variety. This sign could also fall under the ‘induces trepidation’ category. We saw a number of signs like this in eastern Tennessee. Really, why would anyone need to rent a machine gun?!
This sign only fell into this category after we drove round a mountain for over an hour trying to find the spot, unsuccessfully, followed by blowing out a tire as we went back down the mountain, put on the spare on the side of a steep and narrow road and limped the rest of the way down to our bed-and-breakfast. Let’s just say that signage in Ireland lacks a lot of pertinent information and frequently stumps the GPS in your rental vehicle.
A wave of nostalgia
I grew up in the Woodstock era. I was much too young to be allowed to go, but the scrappy little music festival ended up making history and defining a generation. When we found out a few years ago that the site had been restored and was available to visit, we had to go — to stand in the place that was such a big moment in our youths and to share in that moment even if only in retrospect.
We also grew up with the Charlie Brown comics. One of the annual Christmas-season events in our house is a viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas — we never tire of it. It remains a popular show to this day, but I’m not sure more recent generations realize what a time capsule it is — children walking around by themselves after dark, lots of wide snowy undeveloped spaces and frozen ponds to skate on, the popularity of metallic trees… We’d been down to the fantastic ICE! show at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville once before while spending Christmas with one of our cousins, and on a return visit as soon as I found out that the theme that year would be A Charlie Brown Christmas I booked the tickets! It was a chilly blast from the past to walk through the entire story done in larger-than-life ice sculptures.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has always been my favourite spooky story, with the big bad as a dead Hessian soldier on his jet black horse with a flaming pumpkin for a head! In another aha moment, as soon as I found out that the town of Sleepy Hollow actually exists (originally called North Tarrytown but adopting the name from Washington Irving’s most famous story out of affection and marketing value), I knew we had to go. The entire area is Irving country and replete with all kinds of Halloween events. But most important of all, you can walk across the modern incarnation of the bridge that helped inspired Irving in his 1820 tale of terror in the wilds of Westchester County.
Although this style of signage was iconic of an earlier generation, when you stumble upon one now it’s a perfect little time capsule of a bygone era when post-war life was good, the economy was booming and North America was full of innocence and optimism.
Shiver me timbers!
As a devotee of haunted attractions, I love the creativity in signage used to intrigue us and make us wonder if it’s safe to go on.
Of course, this photo is of one of the least-frightening Halloween attractions around, but it’s an opportunity to turn into a five-year-old again for a few hours.
Busch Gardens in Williamsburg does a little eerier version — not too frightening, but lots of atmosphere!
Signs throughout the park during the day promise thrills after dark.
Here in Ontario, Fort Henry in Kingston takes advantage of its built-in architecture to turn into its creepy alter-ego once the sun goes down.
Next week we’ll continue on this theme with poignant signs that give us insight into the tears of the past.
As always, all photos are by me and all rights are reserved.