Saturday, November 15, 2014

Brief, But Glamorous November Light: Nothing Weeps But the Cherry Tree

            It's November: it's too cold to spend hours out of doors. And the day's too short to waste daylight. A late afternoon flare-up in the back yard (of course late afternoon comes early). The weeping cherry burning brighter than other autumns. That's the year, 2014 -- the growing season at least -- going up in flames. It's a great color. (Top photo.)
            When the weather is nice I go to the salt marsh by the shoreline at Wollaston Beach. Despite the fact that I've been there probably a couple of hundred times now, the marsh still smells and feels like a new world. Just far enough away to make a contrast with a city, the world of people, my world: my own private world of home gardening and desk sitting as well. Last week somebody opened the flood gates, and the marsh filled with water. It wasn't an astronomical high tide, we weren't having one, and it certainly wasn't a rain storm of biblical dimensions because we hardly had any rain either.
            But we had plenty of water. I watched it flow, a long circuitous current from the Quincy Bay into another piece of salt marsh, then into a a permanent sort of lagoon called Black Creek; then turn about and flow seaward, perhaps under the influence of an outgoing tide from the estuarial Furnace Brook, and flow seaward toward the salt marsh where I walk. It won't reach the sea. It gets trapped by the marsh and fills it.
            High water, high enough for kayaks and canoes, possibly even for party boats,  means no wading birds. They have place to stand in low water, waiting for a fish to mistake their skinny legs for a stem. High water sometimes brings geese and ducks to the marsh. Not this time. A great elemental smell in the air -- water, fresh air, and wet, wet spartina grass -- but a no-bird week in the marsh .
            Best color on the local foliage front this week, with the possible exception of that weeping cherry, is the reddish turn on the hydrangea. I don't know what the other hydrangeas do in November, but this one is a lace-cap variety, meaning the flowers have a white lacy center with a kind of coppery-color larger blossom circlet encircling the "cap." 
            This week those blossoms turned reddish. I don't know any name for this color. (Fourth photo down)
            I kept trying to capture a red sunset sky behind the red-orange leaves of the young maple tree in front of our house without much success. What I got was either too light, or too dark, or with no clear discrimination between colors of nature (fifth down).
            Indoors, the best color came from some branches I scrounged off the big annual hibiscus that I kept alive for two years, but was too slow to save this year. The plant, spending a summer outdoors in a big plastic pot, is sensitive to the cold, and the a couple of chilly nights put the death in its leaves before I did anything about it except to try to rescue its neighbor, which promptly died from shock when I brought it indoors.
            I cut the stems on the old hibiscus where the buds were largest and brought them inside to sit in water. We were rewarded with a handful of short-lived but touchingly fragile blossoms. Short-lived but sublime. They shared a table with the mail (sixth down).
            Not wasting a moment of November light, I go back to my beginning. The sun lights up the the weeping Japanese cherry tree behind the house and I race outdoors to see it. The effect was far more ravishing that the photo.
            It was brief as the hands of November's clock. 
            The November sunset comes quickly. The moment is there and you drop everything and seize it. Or try.