Amateur Naturalist: Beauty of autumn sunlight creates new energy

Posted Oct. 22, 2011, at 12:54 p.m.
A sumac in Unity.
Dana Wilde
A sumac in Unity.
A maple against the sky.
Dana Wilde
A maple against the sky.
Maple leaves.
Dana Wilde
Maple leaves.
A maple in Bangor.
Dana Wilde
A maple in Bangor.
A September field in Troy.
Dana Wilde
A September field in Troy.
October oak in Troy.
October oak in Troy.
The Zanesville Woods in Unity.
Dana Wilde
The Zanesville Woods in Unity.
October grass in Unity.
Dana Wilde
October grass in Unity.
An October field in Troy.
Dana Wilde
An October field in Troy.
Oak and birch in Troy.
Dana Wilde
Oak and birch in Troy.
Milkweed in Troy.
Dana Wilde
Milkweed in Troy.
Milkweed in Troy.
Dana Wilde
Milkweed in Troy.
A maple in Troy.
Dana Wilde
A maple in Troy.
Lakeside in Unity.
Dana Wilde
Lakeside in Unity.
Lake grass in Unity.
Dana Wilde
Lake grass in Unity.
Horseweed in Unity.
Dana Wilde
Horseweed in Unity.
Horseweed in Unity.
Dana Wilde
Horseweed in Unity.
Fall grass in Unity.
Dana Wilde
Fall grass in Unity.
Rough-stemmed goldenrod in Unity Park.
Dana Wilde
Rough-stemmed goldenrod in Unity Park.
Rough-leaved goldenrod in Troy.
Dana Wilde
Rough-leaved goldenrod in Troy.
Rough-leaved goldenrod in Troy.
Dana Wilde
Rough-leaved goldenrod in Troy.
Goldenrod.
Dana Wilde
Goldenrod.
Burdock in Unity.
Dana Wilde
Burdock in Unity.
Burdock in Unity.
Dana Wilde
Burdock in Unity.

Botanoluminescence.

From mid-September to mid-October hereabouts, sunlight slants in through birches, oaks and pines at angles unseen in any other time of year. In late afternoon the scarlet sumac and goldenrod skeletons and even stands of horseweed radiate energy that practically sets the day on fire. The angle of the sunlight is prying something loose. The dry brown stalks and inflorescences of grass are illuminated as if from inside.

It takes superhuman patience to keep a scientific eye.

The maples, Thoreau observed, are “the most beautiful of all tangible things.” Their red leaves, and the copper beech leaves, purple grasses and burst milkweed pods become prisms of things unseen, directing otherwise invisible glints of divinity onto your retina and transforming them there, right in the same angle where the sea and sun vanish into each other. In the crystal clear autumn sunlight, the intangible is as near to tangible as it can get and not kill you.

Dana Wilde’s collection of Amateur Naturalist and other writings, “The Other End of the Driveway,” is available electronically and in paperback fromBooklocker.com.

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