October

The owls are back.  I heard them calling last night.  Half asleep, half awake … that in between place where you aren’t sure if you are awake or dreaming, I heard them calling to each other.  The owls always quiet down as daybreak approaches, nestling down in their pine trees as the sky lightens from navy to purple. Their calls a distant memory. The cool weather must have flown in on their wings, this morning,. No cicadas calling, no crickets, just quiet.  Walking out on to my porch the air was bracing, not quite cold but way past cool.  Not summer.

There is a certain quickening, an alertness, that comes with the cooler weather, taking me out of that hazy, warm humid fog of late summer. But the quickening is always tinged with a touch of sadness.   Those long hot days of summer are over.  Those miles and miles of lime green marsh grass are fading and those summer clouds I love so much have disappeared.  Replaced by an endless blue sky.   This is that in between time.  Color still remains in the grasses, the browns of winter haven’t taken hold yet.  By afternoon, the days still warm up to almost summer heat.  The warmth of the sun still burnishes my skin.  I could close my eyes and almost pretend that it was still summer.  But a coolness rides on the breeze, now.  The air feels different.  The birdsongs have changed.  The marsh is changing fast, oranges, golds, pinks and purples are overtaking the green.  In the shadows the green holds steady but when the sunlight hits, the color explodes and the green disappears.  There is a sadness in fall that is cloaked by all that happy color.  A winding down.  A rest is ahead, as nature throws her everything at you… one last hurrah.  It’s like story time before bed.  You know sleep is coming but you need just one more story to keep it at bay. 

I feel it in my painting.  An uneasiness.  A disturbance.  A feeling that I need to do something different.  Push in a different direction.   Dig in to a painting and completely immerse myself in it.  Or maybe paint a hundred studies of the marsh as it changes right outside my door.   I am unsettled.  

It’s always this way in the fall.  Sometimes I think it has to do with my birthday in October.  The sense of time passing.  Mortality. Regrets and unfinished business. Another year past and a new one coming up.  A sense of needing to accomplish something. To capture the elusiveness of what surrounds me as it disappears.  To leave a record of being here.  Each year I try to figure out a different way to approach it. 

But no matter how much I seek a different path, a different perspective, the answer is always the same every year. Always clear and simple and right in front of me. But, oh, so hard for me to embrace.

October is an embracing of the unsettling. An embracing of change. Of life. 

an October morning – gouache in sketchbook

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I am a landscape painter living and painting on the Georgia coast. Painting and writing is a way to reach out and share my observations, my experiences and my inspirations with you. It is how I tell my story and the story of the wild, beautiful landscape where I live.

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