Autumn in our garden

Now that winter is almost here, I thought I’d show you a few photographs from the autumn we’ve had this year. A few of them are from our courtyard, most are from our garden. Enjoy!

Autumn has visited our home

I’ve been hearing our trees calling out to me these past few days, particularly yesterday, when it rained and their leaves were wet, a beautiful kind of colored, almost translucent wet brought on by the autumn winds. They were saying, “Raoul, come out and admire us, you know you want to… Take your camera and come outside.” And I’d say to myself, “Yeah, I really need to set some time aside today to do that,” and then I’d get to work on whatever project was most important and lose all track of time.

I didn’t get to go out yesterday but I did it today and it was worth it. Our entire courtyard is peppered with sour cherry and cherry leaves, paulownia leaves, “platan” leaves (it’s a big tree, grows as big as oak trees, but I can’t find its name in English as I write this), fig leaves, lilac leaves, grape leaves and of course my favorite, delicate white birch leaves.

What’s left on the trees is sheer beauty, bunches of leaves hanging on here and there, some dappled with many colors, some filled out completely with just one hue of autumn’s palette, ready to be admired, lessons in meditation and slow, peaceful focus. Autumn is truly a wonderful time, a time to be enjoyed slowly, savored in little vignettes that we tuck away in the precious corners of our heart and pull out later when we want to feel cozy and nostalgic.

I suppose we feel that way because the passing of these temperate four seasons of ours is a good preparation for life (its beginning, progress and ending). It’s hard not to look at autumn leaves and realize they’re saying goodbye to the world they’ve known for many a day. Some will stick around a little bit longer, most are already on the ground, but they know it and we know it; it’s inevitable. Winter, that time of hibernation, of natural pause, of a rest that explodes back into glorious life as spring arrives, will soon be here.

We too, have our autumns. We know, as we get older, that the time is up ahead. We start to feel it in our bones, our joints, our skin. We turn a little more yellow, the bones become a little brittle, the skin on our faces and bodies begins to tell the story of the experiences we’ve had. We have long autumns, we humans, but somehow they’re still not long enough. We always want to do more, even when we can barely move, when we should be preparing for the transition into the next season of our lives, that great hibernation that no one really knows anything about.

The plants are teaching us that every day matters. They show us how to make the most of the days we have, because sometimes all we have is one year, perhaps even less than that. We look at them and admire them for having accomplished their purpose in life, which was to act as complex, integral parts of a whole, for a while. Created by the whole, they rejoin it as they slowly re-integrate into the earth that gave life to the tree itself and is still providing for it.

Perhaps natural beauty is more beautiful because of its intrinsically ephemeral nature. And perhaps human beauty and human life are meant to work in the same way. Enchant us for a while, like blossoming flowers, then give up their life force in order for other creations to exist.

Don’t take these thoughts of mine too philosophically. They’re merely passing glimpses of subjects we don’t understand and possibly cannot even grasp. The only takeaway here is that we should be beautiful in our lives, to possess a beauty that shines from within and colors us in happy hues. We should bring joy and peace to others. We should make positive contributions to the working of the world in general. And we should learn to give up gracefully what was given to us for just a while, when that time comes.

A sunny autumn day

Even though I should have been in bed, I snuck outside a couple of days ago and took photos in our yard and garden of the beautiful fall foliage and flowers. But I didn’t break my doctor’s advice for too long. I was done in about 15 minutes. And then, short of downloading the photos to my iMac and setting them to sync up to the Adobe cloud, which only took a few minutes, I spent all my time in bed. 

Adobe cloud you say? Why? Because Adobe’s come up with an iOS version of Lightroom that’s pretty darn good. And that means all of the photos you see here were edited on my iPad, while in bed. I’m pretty happy about that!

Roses from our garden

Autumn is finally here! I’m glad that long, hot summer is over… If it was up to me, I’d have a long spring, a short summer with temperatures up to 25° Celsius, followed by a long autumn and solid winter full of beautiful, white snow.

Our roses are a constant joy for us. They bloom throughout the three warmer seasons, keep our garden colorful and put a smile on our faces, too. Here are some of our fall rose blooms, photographed less than half an hour ago.  I hope you enjoy them as well!

A walk in the forest

I took these photos about 5½ years ago on a walk at the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, MD. They have such lovely fall foliage in their forest. As I edited the photos for the website, it brought back some fond memories of some of my first years together with my lovely wife. This year is our 10-year anniversary and we’re going to have a baby. The good times go by so fast, don’t they? 🙂

The Autumn of 2005

As we near the autumn of 2012, our thoughts turn inward. We think of colder times ahead and we just want to curl up with a book and a nice cup of tea — or look at memories from bygone years, like photos from the autumn of 2005, taken seven years ago. Most of them were taken in Grosvenor Park, a nice, quiet community in Maryland where we were living at the time. You’ll see Ligia in a few of the photos, sitting quietly at the edge of a pond where ducks were getting ready for their annual migration.

The Autumn of 2006

In the autumn of 2006, I bought a new camera, a Panasonic DMC-FZ20 with a Leica lens, and for the first time in a long time, I was really happy with my pictures. I could use the camera whichever way I liked. The in-camera JPG conversion worked wonderfully and the photos came out looking great. These photos you see here are among the first few hundred I took with that camera. I hope you’ll like them as much as I do.

Now, because there are a lot of them, I’ll only post a few of them large and post the rest as thumbnails. When you click on a thumbnail below, the website will open it up large, in a lightbox, and even let you scroll between them, so enjoy!

Scenes of Autumn

Calm, soothing vignettes of autumn, which will soon be here. The photos were taken in Grosvenor Park. Enjoy!

It’s autumn in the Southern hemisphere

It’s so easy to forget for us “Northerners” that seasons are the other way around in the Southern hemisphere. While we enjoy the beauty of spring and are expecting summer, the “Southerners” have autumn and are expecting winter.

Fall colors in Rock Creek Park

These are photos from a wonderful walk we took in Rock Creek Park (on the Maryland side) in the fall of 2006. It was a beautiful autumn day, the light was wonderful, and the fall foliage was a delightful sight.

This is the oldest tree in Maryland. It’s an oak that dates back to even before the time of the American Revolution. Even though there’s a plaque next to it explaining this, it seems to be a well-kept secret, because in all the years we lived in the DC area, we lived near this tree and we seldom saw people stopping by it.

Sandy Point State Park in autumn

Sandy Point State Park is on the northwestern shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We visited it one windy autumn day and walked on its beaches, gathering seashells and admiring the view. I hear the park is packed during the warm months, so if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet as you stroll through there, you’ll want to brave the cold like we did.

This is one of my favorite photos of us, even though it’s terribly overexposed.

In the parking lot, we met two friendly ducks, whom we filmed.

Pressing Grapes through a Traditional Wine Press

This autumn, we made grape juice from our grape harvest, using a traditional wine press. This video shows you the process and explains how the grape juice can be stopped from fermenting using either the traditional method, which involves heating it up, or the horseradish method, which will allow you to keep it raw, unaltered by heat.

You’ll also see appearances from our cats and our white rabbit.

Enjoy!