Early Autumn Colors


While this rusty glow might suggest sycamore leaves floating atop a clear-flowing stream, the reality that caught my eye at the San Bernard Wildlife Refuge on Saturday was quite different.

Strong sunlight penetrating the tangled bankside growth illuminated the underlying creek bed; a combination of natural soil color and decaying vegetation probably contributed to the mixture of seasonal colors. The shifting reflections were delightful, and the colors served as a cheering reminder that everything pumpkin doesn’t require a barista.


Comments always are welcome.

54 thoughts on “Early Autumn Colors

  1. I promise I’ve not partaken any questionable substances, but I’m seeing all sorts of magical creatures in the orange colour….perhaps I simply need sleep, which I’m about to do, but I’ll glide into that state delighting in those visions.

    1. I’m not surprised you respond to that rusty-orange color. As I recall, it’s the color of much of your outback — and that reminds me of the Aboriginal Dreamtime. I hope your dreams were sweet!

    1. At least temporarily. ‘False fall’ is a reality; summer always demands a curtain call. I don’t allow myself to anticipate real and lasting change until October. Of course, it’s taken years for me to make that adjustment.

      1. October is even too early to think Fall weather in some years. My summer vacation in the northeast was colder than this. I still have trouble adjusting my brain as this time of year our gardens hit a second Spring and my yard is full of flowers, butterflies, bees and hummers.

    1. I had the same thought, Laurie. In fact, that’s why I went back and added ‘abstraction’ to the tags. It’s an interesting image; there’s no way to pull out one element and emphasize it.

  2. at a certain time of day at a certain time of year when the sun is at the right angle it will light up the new growth on the red tip photinia (which is really more orange) and the chinese fringe flower which often sports red leaves and they will just glow. I’ve tried taking pictures but it just doesn’t translate.

    1. There’s another plant whose new growth will do that: the peppervine. I noticed this weekend that it’s coming back like it thinks it’s spring, especially in areas of the refuges that were affected by Hurricane Nicholas. I was down at the San Bernard refuge this weekend and saw a different red: the Turk’s caps. I never in my life have seen those flowers so thick — there were thousands of them in bloom. Because they favor shade, they can be especially hard to photograph: at least, for me.

  3. While others might stroll right by – enjoying being out, but not seeing all the wonder – you managed to catch something beautiful. Real art work – both the creek’s dabbling and your picture. Just beautiful
    (and love the last line!)

    1. Ah, yes. The day I discovered pumpkin spice hand lotion on the shelves of our local HEB and heard someone call the first day of fall ‘pumpkin spice day,’ I couldn’t help thinking some Starbucks execs still are grinding their teeth over the fact that they couldn’t trademark the phrase.

      I was impressed by two things this weekend: the amount of damage at both refuges, and how beautifully much of it’s already been cleaned up. There are a lot of downed trees and broken limbs, and clear evidence of that powerful storm surge, but everything’s accessible. And, as you can see, the light still can get in .

    1. I enjoyed spending time at the spot, watching the light patches grow and shift. There was just enough water flow to create the faint ripples, which added that ‘something extra.’ I’m glad you enjoyed it, Jet.

    1. I have some images of the same area earlier in the year, before the growth took over. It was fairly shallow then, and so clear that little fish were visible. Now, there’s far more water, but it’s still clear, although I was close to the bank, where the water’s more shallow, allowing the sunlight to reach the bottom. It created a lovely effect.

    1. When it comes to pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin bars, I’m right there, and have been since childhood. That drink? Not so much. I did try some so-called pumpkin yogurt, just to see how it was; one was tasteless, and the other was palatable but not at all pumpkin flavored. I’ll stick with my pumpkin-colored water!

    1. I’ve always enjoyed the clarity of our hill country streams, but rivers and bayous in my area tend toward muddiness. That makes the occasional moment of clarity especially pleasing; I’m glad it pleased you, Derrick.

    1. Unfortunately, this morning the humidity’s 92%, which makes our current 76F pretty darned sticky and uncomfortable. So much for false fall! Now that we’ve had a taste of the real thing, everyone’s even more eager for October. If we have to wait until November, as has happened, grumpiness will ensue!

    1. The timing of the front was perfect for your hummingbird celebration. I had a few at my feeders, but they seem to be gone now; they probably took advantage of the north wind and headed your way. For me, the colors brought to mind O’Keeffe’s Lawrence Tree. Funny how the ‘design’ of the image can evoke Monet, but the colors quite a different artist.

    1. Thanks, Tina. I think something other than the water flow caused the ripples, since I have a few photos that don’t show them, but they’re a nice addition, and I’m glad you enjoyed them. It was quite a day for discoveries. I found cardinal flowers for the first time ever; they had their feet in several inches of water, which surprised me. But, I was boot-clad, so there will be photos!

  4. What a fine photo, Linda! I’m delighted that early Fall is finally reaching your area. Don’t fret — we don’t have much in the way of true Fall color yet either!

    1. No fretting here — just a shared longing for 70 degree days and 50 degree nights. There are some hints of color in our Chinese tallow trees. Like most people, I’m ambivalent about them. The trees themselves are invasive, and cause real problems. Most of the year, getting rid of them is the primary concern. But when they begin turning red, yellow, and orange? They certainly are pretty.

    1. The blue and rust brought to mind O’Keeffe’s “The Lawrence Tree,” not to mention the Red River. Of course, there’s the genre called red dirt music that came out of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and the tee shirts I have from the Clarksdale Juke Joint Festival are the color of the Mississippi hills. Black soil was the ne plus ultra of soils in Iowa, but I’ve come to love the reds and reddish-oranges down here.

    1. The trick is learning to see. There’s a bit of an art to it, as birders quickly learn. And, as with all arts, practice is important. It doesn’t take a trip to a refuge or a vacation in a glorious spot to find something to see; the sights are everywhere.

    1. I do enjoy images like this. No matter how many times I look at it, I always see something new. It seems to me to be a good example of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.

    1. There is an in-your-face orange that’s not at all appealing. Construction barrels come to mind, and certain Halloween decorations. But this rusty color is perfectly autumn; until our oak leaves begin to change, it will do quite nicely.

      1. That’s a great way of putting it. My high school colors were black & orange, like perpetual Halloween, and the sports jerseys were definitely on the in-your-face end of the spectrum.
        Southern Utah has some great orange-colored rocks, sandstones I think, and sunset at Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, etc. is a real treat.

    1. I’ll bet you’d like my pumpkin bars with lemon/cream cheese frosting, but I may have an unrealistically high opinion of those treats. I can’t remember ever having sweet potato pie. I’ll have to make that my new autumn treat this year. Do you have a good recipe?

    1. What a lovely — and deeply appreciated — comment. I did spend some time looking, but I didn’t only look at this watery scene. Had I not stopped to admire the water, I wouldn’t have noticed the yellow garden spider that had caught and wrapped a dragonfly in its web That was Saturday. When I went back on Sunday, the dragonfly apparently had been consumed, but the same spider had built a new web and was awaiting breakfast — not twelve hours later. Amazing, really. There will be photos, of course.

  5. As a citizen of a state where we are currently in the waning days of our “green” season and eagerly anticipating our “brown” season, I’m constantly on the lookout for anything with color to photograph.

    A pumpkin spice infused stream would definitely hold me in thrall for awhile!

    1. You’ve reminded me of life in Liberia, where the basic division was between ‘dry time’ and ‘rain time.’ One of the most well-known books about life there is titled Red Dust on the Green Leaves. In fact, the laterite soil there was very nearly the color of the creek bed in this photo. It had other, less enjoyable, characteristics. That’s world-class mud, right there.

    1. You’ve got great mud, but we’ve got our share, including the Red River that forms the part of the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas. Its color is due to that typical red soil.

    1. We have rivers that turn this color, but it’s because the soil gets stirred up and suspended in the water. The special beauty here is the clarity of the water, which lets the river bed and the reflections both shine.

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