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Monday Photo Meditation: Autumn Gold to Winter Blues


It’s my favorite time of year: that space in the season when light and color shift, arc, and settle into something new and intensely bright. It’s that moment in this place when our small world moves seamlessly from autumn gold to winter blues.

Today was such a day, albeit one unseasonably warm — perfectly beautiful and beautifully perfect. It began with rose and coral through the peaks and an earth awash in bright gold, western skies studded and shrouded in blue-violet clouds that moved insistently overhead. The winds blew them out through the mountain passes, though, leaving behind a perfect turquoise sky and ethereal November light, warm gentle winds and wispy trails of white.

In the daylight hours, Indian summer is still here, but there is a dusting of snow upon the peaks.

That dusting will soon be a blanket, and the sunny days will arrive in the company of blue skies so cold they burn like flame.

On principle, I don’t even mind the cold. I love the snow. But this will be the first year in seven that the cold will not be a danger to us. It will be, for us, the first winter to bask safely in the season’s chilly silver light in a very long time.

For now, though, the warmer winds preside, and so, too, does autumn gold. The pole remains upright in the plaza, a tower that catches the sun and converts it to dark blue shadow across the warm dusty earth, a counterpoint to the crenellated parapets cast upon it buy the church. North House captures the gaze of Father Sun himself, holding it fast until the mica in the clay refracts it, turning the oldest continuously inhabited community on this land mass into one of the fabled Cities of Gold. And above it all, a watchful sky sees all, wrapping our world in a protective turquoise blanket, keeping the evils of the larger world firmly at bay.

In the dominant culture, “blues” is a synonym for sadness. For me, it’s always been the most joyous of hues. In our cultures, it’s often a shade that symbolizes the sacred, whether in the form of a protective turquoise talisman or the color of one of the cardinal directions. In one variant of the traditional medicine wheel, blue is the counterpoint to gold: yellow dawn in the east, blue night in the west. But it is also the color of the storm, an association never more valuable than a place where water is truly, elementally, definitively life itself.

So as the autumn gold of the light grows shorter by the day, as the winter blues move in more insistently, consistently, it is time to embrace the shift in shade and shape and power. Autumn is a time for joy, and winter is, too. And this is a season to celebrate.

~ Aji










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