Sunday, September 2, 2012


It happens each and every year
as August fades away like smoke
on restless winds and September begins
to slip in place and settle down—
a moment of contemplative disquiet
when I look about and see those first
cottonwoods glowing softly golden,
quiet flames refracting the pellucid light.

A startling flash of yellow
among the usual green of wooded
edge, an incandescent framing
to meadows where whitetails
feed in brittle watchfulness
as twilight wanes and katydids
proclaim their measured refrain.

So soon? I always think, transfixed by
both beauty and its implications.
But in truth this annual path is
long familiar, the cottonwoods
simply doing what should now
be expected. Why become taken
aback by a few precocious trees?

Perhaps because of what we share.
Successive autumns annually arriving
to claim their due, one bright-colored
leaf after another. Man and leaf both
have their season, eternally ordained
by heaven and earth. Fellow travelers
on a set path along time's journey—
each bound toward their certain end.

A fact which becomes clearer every year,
when I witness those turning cottonwoods.
Until I also remember what I learned
so long ago…that nothing could be better,
for either of us, than to culminate our
earthly portion swaddled in a golden glow.


Penny said...

beautiful photos, is a cottonwood a poplar?

Rowan said...

Autumn is my favourite season and I love to see the colours changing. It's definitely autumnal here and leaves are starting to fall already but this is due more to stress from a poor and odd summer I think. There aren't any real signs of leaf colour yet, I hope it isn't going to be one of those years when we don't get much colour.

Jayne said...

I adore this transition time and look forward to it each year. It really is a time to focus on how time marches on...

Grizz………… said...


Yup, Populus deltoides…the Eastern cottonwood is the one I have around here, one of several North American species of cottonwoods. Also one of our largest hardwood trees, occasionally reaching heights upwards of 150 feet.

Grizz………… said...


Looking out my deskside window, the 100-yard view downstream is still entirely green. But if I go a couple hundred yards up the hill, away from the river, the hickories are turning yellow and up the road a quarter mile—where I took these photos the other day—the cottonwoods are glowing gold. A lot of the vegetation appears tired out and faded, though that's probably due more from the record-setting hot, dry summer than the changing season. Nevertheless, the signs are out, for sure, just still subtle—a note here and there. However, change is not merely a'comin'…it's already visibly on the way.

Grizz………… said...


I love this time, too…from here through the end of the year. A pensive, bittersweet, melancholy period, with a bit of wildness and mystery, that I suspect fits my old Celtic/druid nature.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Beautiful trees those cottonwoods Grizz.
I noticed this weekend that the horse chestnut trees here are beginning to turn into a deep orange colour. Autumn does have its compensations even if it does give way to Winter. When I think of some of your winter ice and snow photographs of the river, I quite look forward to it!

Grizz………… said...


I look forward to both autumn and winter…though it will have to get a lot colder and snowier than last year if I'm to have the opportunity to photograph those wintry river scenes you enjoy. Last year was a complete no-show.

AfromTO said...

now see I would walk thru those trees and roll around on that grass-so lush

Grizz………… said...

AfromTO said...

What you're seeing isn't grass, but something about knee high (I'm really going to have to key it down and put a name to the stuff!) that appeared a couple of years back when they drained what was once a shallow lake. Still pretty nice and cushy, though.

Grizz………… said...


Thank you. Not much leaf change hereabouts—but it's starting, and a few more days will show a noticeable difference. After our record-breaking drought and heat, though, I'm not sure how great even the peak of the local color will look—have to give it about three weeks and see.