Autumn Color and Moody Skies at Nolte State Park

Autumn Color and Moody Skies at Nolte State Park

Photography has been a way for me to slow down and observe the world around me in more detail.  I’ve discovered more about the forest, the seasons, the habitats, and the animals in the Green River Gorge then ever before.  The story that never ends and always reveals more.

Small forest fungi I could have overlooked.

This autumn I was ready to document another autumn along the Green River Gorge Greenway.  However, the changing of the seasons has not lived up to my expectations.  October has been documented as one of the wettest on record.  I waited impatiently for the autumn’s color to arrive.  I checked various locations in the Greenway for hints of the coming color change.  I planned my days to go out and shoot only to wake up to pouring rain or uninspiring grey skies.  The lack of clear sunny days and cold nights along with the rain dampened the transition of seasons.  The color seemed to take forever and many trees went from Green to Brown without the variations of bright yellows, oranges, and reds.

Brilliant autumn color in western Washington is never guaranteed as it is in other areas of the country on the drier side of Washington state.  No autumn is alike due to the influence of factors such as temperature and moisture before and during autumn.  The vibrant color I was hoping for just didn’t materialize.  The last flash of yellow, orange, and red fire before the long dark winter was replaced by a quiet fizzle of sinking dark clouds and the early onset of our rainy season.

I had to settle for a few lucky photos of autumn this year and then dig into my archives for a few more brilliant autumns to share.  I can only hope that next year is more inspiring and colorful.  

In the meantime I wanted to learn more about what causes leaves to change color and to try and get a better understanding of the timing so that I could be ready next year, just in case, we have a more spectacular autumn in the Green River Gorge Greenway.

This website has a great interactive map of fall color and timing.

This site explains more about leaves change color.

Also as an observation I’ve realized that autumn is really a time of renewal as well as the dying of summer’s light.  The leaves turn color and fall to the ground and decay, feeding nutrients back into the soil and protecting the trees through long winters.  Along with the leaves the salmon return, spawn, and die.  They also return nutrients back into the soil with their dead carcasses and they replenish their species by laying eggs.  Food is harvested by man and beast to get ready for the long dark winter.  

Salmon Eggs in Icy Creek

Salmon Eggs in Icy Creek

The circle of seasons continues.  Autumn's finale cresendos in rich warm colors warms our minds as autumn turns to winter’s sleep. Spring yawns upon awakening and a flurry of growth commences with the rising sun and lengthening days.  Then summer reigns as flowers turn toward the sun, vines stretch, and limbs reach into the sky.   Then circle continues, each year.