Saturday, October 29, 2011

In praise of brown

The foliage season this year has been brief and brown. We saw lovely color on Columbus Day weekend but had to travel north of Ellsworth to do so. The mid-coast never really reached the full left-hand side of the spectrum. In the suburbs of Boston most everything is still green. Late October snowfalls are completing a somewhat dismal picture.

At least the brown colors are amazing. Not usually a word to associate with "brown," I know, but the richness of the array on hillsides and next to roads has been outstanding this past week. I say "rich" deliberately; although individual bursts of reds and oranges and yellows are rare, most leaves have something of them, and they blend together in a huge variety of shades of brown. I've never appreciated its complexity until now. And the contrast with the bare white birch, the blue sky, the dark green firs, the bright green of hay field and lawn and verge makes the color sing.

Brown this year is not muddy. It is warm with licks of flame, hints of sun, flashes of the tropics. It represents the way I want to go into winter, not with a tourist blast, then nothing, but with a soft, slow falling into black and white.

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