In the Light of Late November

In this time of late November, any days when the sun shines are highly appreciated.  The days are becoming ever shorter, and the weather tends toward fog and rain.  Although we received several inches of snow a couple of weeks ago, it has since melted, and we are now back in this altogether liminal season that is neither autumn nor winter but something in between.

Along the shore of a small local lake, I found the remnants of these tiny red berries that had grown – inexplicably – among the bulrushes.  I have no idea what they are.  The afternoon light made them seem almost to glow against the otherwise drab landscape.

The sun is low in the sky these days, creating intriguing contrasts of light and shadow, and often calling attention to small details that might have been missed in other, more colourful, seasons.  I was fascinated by the light shimmering off the surface of the water, but aiming my camera into the light of sun gave everything a faded, misty look.  It is light and texture, not colour, that captures my interest at this time of year, but those are a bit harder to capture with the camera.

Closer to home, dead birch trees glowed a stark white above a tangle of bare branches.  In the field below, the shadows were long and a solitary horse grazed near the creek.

Birch trees are dying here, but no one seems to know precisely why – although it may be due to a combination of a wood-boring beetle, a fungus, and climatic changes.  The trees typically begin to die back at the top, and in a few years the entire tree will be dead, leaving behind these white skeletons that gradually rot and eventually fall down.  Before they fall, the rotting trunks provide habitat for cavity-nesting birds and another animals.

On this November day, the dead trees are surrounded by the branches of trees that have lost their leaves for fall, and each separate branch and twig is illuminated with light.

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