Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 8: Seeing Red

Late fall the landscape begins to wither and fade. While trees are still hanging onto a surprising number of leaves, they're duller, burnished browns now. Grasses are dried up, flowers gone. So as I drove to Augusta this afternoon I was surprised to see nature's most vivid color suddenly blazing forth. Red! I put on the brakes as I came upon a small blueberry barren, its brilliant crimson emphasized by remnant patches of snow lingering in a shady corner. Is there any red more breathtaking than an autumn blueberry barren?

Blueberry barrens in Hope, Ragged Mountain in background
Maybe... Heading up Route 17 I was then struck by another vision of red: amid the dried-up reeds and blown-out cattails of a small wetland, a winterberry bush shone forth, its berries glowing in the sunlight like Rudolph's nose (as seen in the traditional holiday special with Burl Ives). Further along, more clumps of berry bushes popped out, exclamations along the way.

The sun was sinking low as I returned from Augusta a few hours later, washing the trees with that last rich light of the day. The mellow brown leaves were transformed into a breathtaking coppery bronze. With trees lining both sides of the road, it was like driving through a corridor lit by a living, reddish glow, enhanced all the more by a crisp, clear blue sky backdrop containing the almost full moon. Now the winterberries blurred together into a haze of color as I drove past. The scarlet of the blueberry fields deepened. If I were an artist and tried to paint with those reds, it would look unreal, unnatural. But there I was, surrounded by them. Real life red, almost pulsing.

Before all goes white,
red appears: blueberry fields
and winterberries.

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