Illumination

The light this time of year is holy. There’s something about it, about how it slips through the leaves at an angle, that reinvents the world it illuminates. Even today, with a gray sky, there is still magic in the shimmer of the remaining leaves.

Most are gone now. People talk about the red of fall, but that color is just one of many in the autumn woods, and it lasts for a narrow window of time. Oak leaves last longer than any of the others, slowly turning russet and lingering for weeks before falling. They’re tougher as well, and slippery underfoot.

Last weekend we were here. The trail we followed passed through a stretch of young beech trees. Their leaves were yellow and their bark was silver, and the light around them was indescribable.

We also rewatched Rivers and Tides over the weekend. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a documentary about the art of Andy Goldsworthy, and I love it. There is, at the very beginning, a bit showing him working with ice, and the final product, built around a rock, glows when the rising sun hits it. It’s completely beautiful, and there’s something about the transitory nature of it that moves me. I also think it’s a great thing to watch with kids, because it acknowledges the potential of art in all the little experiments they try outside.

There’s light everywhere, even in these darkening days. You just have to look for it.

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