Autumn: My Favourite Time of Year
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
It's no secret, but as a Landscape and Natural History Photographer, Autumn is my absolute most favourite time of year. Of course, the fact that my birthday falls smack bang in the middle of it may have something to do with it.
But that's not really it, as the image above shows; Autumn is an amalgam of many things and not all of them are physical, some are emotional or metaphysical. This particular image is one I am genuinely proud of as I feel it captures the essence of Autumn and is a well-constructed photograph to boot. So to deconstruct it, what does it say? The water is moving, flowing downhill giving a sense of time and of movement. It's also flowing away, going to another place which transmits a sense of loss. Yet it is also a constant. The river was here yesterday and will be here tomorrow, the day after and possibly for thousands of years hence. So it is also reassuring, the noise and chatter of the water falling over the rocks gives an ever-changing soundtrack almost like a companion, sometimes muted, sometimes loud, but always present like a friend who will always be there for you. Then there are the trees, covered in moss, they exude age and permanence. Yet, there is also a sense of fragility, of vulnerability to the elements which have shaped them. Their leaves carpet the ground, echoing the sense of loss, but are also evidence of the changing of the seasons, much like the changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. It is something that must happen, is heralded every year, but still there is a feeling of unease. When will it happen, will the Winter be kind, what will the following year bring? Questions that are asked every year and have been asked since life evolved on Earth. In the middle distance is a tree, a Beech arrayed in glowing Gold and Green as if going to a Ball dressed in it's finest gown, yet this is the last of the year and soon, that fine array of yellow-gold leaves must join the millions of others strewn on the ground. But those leave in themselves must also be consumed by the action of Fungi and myriads of small almost invisible Creatures. In death and decay, they bring new life and most importantly recycle themselves back to Mother Earth. They are at one with Her and as the line in the Bible goes; In death, we are in life. Quite literally.
And of course there is more, because as with all photographs the photographer (me) has made a choice to exclude elements from the story. I could have shown. the ugly fencing put up to restrict access to areas eroded by heavy foot traffic. Or, I could have shown the the tacky fast food restaurant nearby. All evidence of Man's impact on the fragile ecosystems of this planet (This also includes Women, you don't get away so easy!) It doesn't show the people there (mostly tourists - the Internet has much to answer for) also driven by the need to find beauty and solitude amid Natures wonders, yet also strangely driven by the need to congregate in such places. Yet, still for Autumn, you cannot do much better than ask for a Broad-leaved Woodland, a flowing river and the chance to experience it.
That's not it entirely of course, for we are all looking for something different in seeking such a place. Myself, I seek also release from my own inner dialog by placing myself in situations where I can closely experience the Natural World and people are largely excluded from that experience. I also selfishly resent sharing that ability to be mindful with others that are probably doing exactly the same thing. It is a relief also from a job that places me so very closely to others in a unique way. People tell me things about their lives they have never told others at a point where things are about to change irrevocably for them. It is sometimes a heavy burden and one that can generally only be understood by those who do similar jobs in the caring field. So these are just some of the things that are implicit when viewing an image like the one above. Of course, each individual's experience of such a place will be different. What is taken away by the person parked next to you will be different from the one next to them and so on. The other thing that I did not begin with is of course the hot topic that will be at the top of everybody's agenda for a long time to come. Climate Change (Capitals intentional) as such places as Golitha Falls on Bodmin Moor where I took this picture are also subject to climate change, just like the rest of the World and if we do not act, the place will change substantially. Change of course has always been a constant in the natural world. What we now consider 'normal' weather would have been toasty-warm in the years following retreat of the last Ice Age. At other times, giant insects and strange sea-creatures would have lived in this area. But those were always natural changes. The current ones are largely a consequence of Human activity. Something now needs to be done about that if our descendants are to live in a World that is as beautiful as the one we live in now.