The Time of the Illuminated Woods

October 30, 2013

“Now is the time of the illuminated woods; they have a sense of sunshine, even on a cloudy day, given by the yellow foliage; every leaf glows like a tiny lamp; one walks through their lighted halls with a curious enjoyment.”
— John Burroughs, from The Heart of Burrough’s Journals, ed. Clara Barrus

Dog walker at Green Lake

Dog walker at Green Lake

Illuminated tree at Green Lake

Illuminated tree at Green Lake

“[The leaves] have ripened like the grain and the fruit; they are colored like the clouds at sunset; and their demise seems a welcome event.  They make the woods and groves gay; they carpet the ground as with sunset clouds; it is a funeral that is like a festival; it is the golden age come back.

The falling of these gayly colored leaves seems to make a holiday in nature; it is like the fluttering of ribbons and scarfs; it does not suggest age and decay; it suggests some happy celebration.  They seem to augment the sunshine, to diffuse their own color into it, or to give back to it the light they have been so long absorbing.”
— John Burroughs, “In Field and Wood,”  from The Writings of John Burroughs

I love these descriptions of fall foliage. I can’t think of anything to improve upon them.

3 Responses to “The Time of the Illuminated Woods”

  1. Brigitte Marseille Says:

    Rosemary, je suis toujours avec plaisir les billets de ton blog.
    Ici aussi l’automne commence mais nous avons encore un temps de fin d’été
    I always follow with pleasure yours articles on your blog.
    Here automn is there, it’s the beginning but sometimes de good summer days : like indian summertime.
    friendly brigit

    • Rosemary Says:

      Greetings Brigit, someday maybe I will be able to experience a French autumn. The best time of year for hiking!

  2. camilla wells paynter Says:

    Wonderful photos and quotes. I really like “the time of the illuminated woods.” We have had some truly spectacular days here and everywhere I go there are scenes like those in your photos. I almost can’t stand the ephemeral quality of it…I want to take all those colored leaves and press every one. Of course, part of the beauty is in the knowledge of its passing.


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