Most years, when winter has waned and spring has sprung, I resume my (almost) daily walks. This year I had some additional motivation to start. On New Year's Day I committed myself to a 365 photo challenge: to take and post a new picture every day of the year 2017.
Once the walks returned, meeting the challenge was easy. Late winter and early spring flowers start the show. Soon trees are budding and blossoming. Tulips, daffodils, and iris dominate mid-spring. Finally, roses, clematis, and lilies oblige the photographer.
Recently, at the beginning of the second week in June, I was halfway through my walk when I realized I had not snapped a single photo. The spring riot of colors was reduced to a murmur. Green dominated.
My first reaction to this was a twinge of sadness. The situation quickly triggered a Robert Frost poem that I had taught many times to my students over the years:
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
The poem and the lack of color other than green got me to thinking. At two thirds of a century, am I watching the dawn go down to day, as Frost would have it? Has the best--gold, Eden--passed?
I have nothing against summer. It is a beautiful season in its own right, but for me it can't hold a candle to spring or fall.
Aha moment! (Cue the lightbulb over my head!) The green is necessary to produce the next round of gold. Autumn foliage is by far my favorite thing to photograph. If I want to shoot in the fall, I must accept and embrace the green of summer. The color will return, just in a different form.
Frost’s poem seems to tell us that beauty is fleeting, temporal, ephemeral. Enjoy it because it won't last. He gets in John Keat’s face, who boldly claimed that beauty had a lot more staying power than Eden: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
Robert Frost won four Pulitzer prizes for poetry. Keats is, well, he’s Keats! These are heavyweight thinkers and artists. But when it comes to the seasons of my life, I’m going with The Chairman of the Board, Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra:
The best is yet to come...
We've only tasted the wine.
We're gonna drain that cup dry.
And so it is with my life. The beauty of truth may get scarred. The gold may be lacking at times. But they will come back.
And life will be better.
(c) 2017 Larry Pizzi
50 years of photographs and 35 years of keeping a commonplace book.