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Monday Photo Meditation: A Little Autumn Clarity

We are a week out from October — less than a week from the Pueblo’s largest and most public feast.

It will begin on Saturday, at week’s end this year, culminating in Sunday’s services and festivities. If the forecast holds, it will be sunny and seasonably cool, a day of perfect autumn clarity.

And clarity is what we need now.

This is only the second full day of autumn, and in some respects, it feels as though the season is already racing past, our world galloping toward winter at breakneck speed. It’s not especially cold yet — highs are still mostly in the eighties, even if the nights are forty degrees cooler — but the leaves will have turned, and much of them mostly dropped, before the mercury dips solidly into truly cold temperatures. Meanwhile, the drought remains mostly constant, raising the spectre of last year’s “winter,” a season of precious little genuine cold and even less snow to how for it.

This winter feels, in too many ways, like this land’s last chance: If we do not have a genuine winter, with even minimally decent snowfall, we will know that our world has changed irrevocably, and beyond our ability to reclaim it.

At the speed with which time passes, though, it leaves us little time for nostalgia and even less for grief. This year has shown us that we have to be ready to deal with what comes, even if it turns out to be the worst possible outcome. And that means that, perhaps more than in autumns past, we must use this season to prepare.


It’s a hard-edged word, spiky and angular, just like the light at this time of year. We tend to think of the light as something diffuse, all fading round penumbra and soft gentle glow. But in this place, at this time of year, the light is a physical thing, wth a scalpel’s edge to match the wind’s, cutting through the air to cast long bright beams and dark shadows across the earth.

It’s a shot across a land-locked bow, a warning, a beacon less to beckon than to foreshadow, a premonitory form of illumination that holds little in common with the stuff of doves and angels. And for our peoples, ever practical, ever grounded, it’s not merely accepted but expected: We know, better than most, just what winter is capable of holding within its blankets.

Now, more than ever, we need a little autumn clarity to foresee what might wait within winter’s shadow.

~ Aji








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