I’d two alternatives planned for Sunday morning in Nanjing. If the weather was good, I would go up to Zijin Shan, the Purple Mountain, and visit the Xiaoling tomb of the first Ming emperor. On the other hand, if it rained or it was too cold, I would go off to see the famous Nanjing Museum. As it happened, it was a beautiful autumn day, crisp and cool, and I felt very well rested after a long sleep, and ready for a good walk. I wasn’t sure that the autumn colours would still persist into the middle of November, but it had been a warm month, and I was lucky. The first view of the area was stunning, as you can see in the featured photo.
It was a lovely day for a walk, and clearly a large number of people had come to the same decision. The Purple Mountain covers a large area, but Nanjing is a large town. The place was crowded. When I’m not on the track of birds or wildlife, I don’t mind crowds. I walked along with Chinese families, groups of friends, couples out to enjoy themselves. A sunlit meadow surrounded by maple trees drew my attention. I sat on a bench below a tree and shed my sweater. The leaves were turning colour above me. It was wonderfully restful, but after a week of sitting in meetings, I wanted to spend the day walking.
Later, when I got back to the stream I walked along it. In the beautiful light even dry twigs could be beautiful. Families had claimed bits of the river bank for a while, to take photos of each other, or to sit down for a picnic. I sat and took photos of the beautiful autumn.
The weeping willows which dip their leaves into the flowing water were turning colour. How does one capture the warmth and the sunlight? Perhaps by concentrating on little details like the backlit leaves.
Little dry leaves floated down the river. I took a few photos. It was time to go.
Autumn is supposed to be the time when life shuts down, trees dry up, the land turns barren. Demeter is supposed to withdraw from the world to mourn for Persephone. These are stories and suppositions, which my new macro lens puts a lie to. A dried bush (see the featured photo) becomes home to mould which germinates and begins to spread its spores. This world is spring, as far as the mould is concerned.
After a long spell of continuous rain, I walked to work on a sunny morning and stopped to admire a six century old rubble wall. In hollows and cracks in the stone, between the flakes of mortar, and against the sometimes-dry-sometimes-wet stone, new life is burgeoning. “Winter is coming” is a slogan for life in this miniature world.
A microscopic veldt
A barely visible strand of moss
Lichen growing over a miniature thornbush
A microscopic wetland
Life layered over rocks
A special micro-climate in a tiny hollow
Autumn’s new life
A micro ecology
Never seen a moth so small
Katydid in hiding
A microcosmic ecosystem
This is a green and brown world which I had paid no attention to earlier. Now that I have a macro lens, I look continuously for new subjects to photograph. What a difference a new tool can make to your whole worldview!
This is my favourite time in northern Germany. The cold has not yet settled in. The weather is fickle: sunny and warm one day, foggy another, and cooler with rain if you are unlucky. But through it all there is the glow of leaves turning colour.
As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness.
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.
–Rainer Maria Rilke
I think of this as Rilke’s country, where lonely people sit under the golden trees writing long letters and reading a little. I will post more on this through the season. Here are a few photos through my first day here.
Long shadows of the morning
A living sound baffle
Sunlight on my kitchen curtains
A golden path
After the farming season
The colour of mango
A barn wall