Trite Intoxication

Intense fall colors, better than most years. Gorgeous weather. Be very careful not to rear-end the car in front of you as it suddenly pulls over. It’s the kind of fall in which I struggle with the triteness of my responses to breathtaking beauty that smacks of Thomas Kinkade at his gaudiest. In which I and everyone else in Plainfield repeat ad nauseam and mostly to each other that it’s more beautiful right here than anywhere else and how lucky (smart) we are to live here.

How, as a photographer, can I respond to this? The power of the season lies in the intense transformation it wreaks on the landscape in a none-too-subtle palette running from green to red via yellow, hitting each and every brilliant shade in between. I have neither the gear nor the inclination to photograph hillsides. And hillside photographs, no matter how well done, in the end are only a step on the way to the next and even more gorgeous hillside – in the same way that one Oreo cookie is largely a step to the next and eating the package is the point rather than savoring a cookie.

How to express the feeling of magic that overwhelms me in woods where each tree and each bush is becoming a painting in itself? Where all detail hitherto hidden in green is delineated in colorful sharpness? Where decay shines on its way to black? Where the late-season slant gives trees a luminance that — time and again — takes my breath away?

Apparently I have felt this way for a while. I guess I am still in the right place at the right time.

October 1991
(thoughts from an adirondack chair in Bucksport, Maine)

nature displays its gaudiest tweeds
–the sunset palette of yellow through red
complemented by green pine–
to the magic of autumn light

sunshine on splendid watercolors
thick crayon in the shade
in drizzle and rain the trees
shine with an inner light
–luminous saturation–

impressionists, poets
have rendered it much better than i can
i can only feel with my eyes
and drown in trite intoxication

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