So the United States Government shut down. I could use some donuts, or maybe a hamburger. That’s all I have to say about that.
Today is the beginning of my favorite month. For how much I hate winter, I love October. When I was a student, October was pretty much a wasted month. Neither winter nor summer, it was just a time when I had to do what other people told me to do. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I started to love everything about this time of year.
October is the official end of summer in my mind. Temperatures near or above 90 are most often a thing of the past. The light changes from the brilliant bright blue of summer to a faded, more subtle sky. For those of us that love photographs of sunsets and skies, this time of year yields the best of the best. The colors are deeper and for me, the sky feels closer.
While it took me until close to thirty to start to appreciate what October brought, I do have vivid memories of two fantastic Octobers spent in New England.
I arrived in New Hampshire in January of 1990. January is a mean month, full of spite and anger. I don’t much like it at all, and spending January in a new place, scared, homesick and confused did not make me like it any better. New England was cold and dark in the winter, with a completely unfamiliar landscape. I was used to open spaces, mountains, and all New Hampshire offered was rolling hills, claustrophobic views and bitter cold.
Of course, I quickly fell in love with the landscape and even learned to tolerate the winter. Spring and summer were fantastic times, though humid, but nothing prepared me for Autumn.
I lived in a strange town called Biddeford, on the southern coast of Maine. The place itself was very industrial, filled with blue collar, no nonsense workers. The surrounding area contained some of the best beaches in all of Maine. Old Orchard beach became a close favorite. With the boardwalk starting to close down for the winter, the tourist season waning, we had the place to ourselves a great deal. I have vivid memories of walking along the sand as the water rolled up near my shoes and a chilly October wind blowing me about. The smell of the ocean in the Autumn was unforgettable.
Another night, we went out at low tide. With little light to guide us, we walked out towards the sound of the crashing waves for what seemed like miles. Hard packed sand beneath our feet still carried some chill and salt from the ocean and our shoes were covered with salty residue. I remember being a bit afraid, unsure if we would suddenly find ourselves at the waters edge, or worse, knocked over by the rising tides. The sky so deep and never ending, peppered with stars, that my eyes hurt to look at it.
The colors, the never ending colors of the leaves as the trees changed-what I would have done for a decent camera. Driving the coastal roads, the contrast of the gray ocean on one side and the red, orange and yellow on the other was startling. When the water was partially obscured by trees, the kaleidoscope effect made me dizzy.
It lasted for three weeks.
The rain came sometime near the end of that third week, and when it finally abated, the colors were gone, replaced by a deep brown that continued to decay until all that remained was barren trees and lifeless ground.
The second Autumn I spent in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. Our apartment sat across the street from a boarding school and I often walked along the boat dock and down paths leading in and out of tree covered areas and open grass fields. The lake water appeared vastly different from the ocean. It never turned the same muddy gray, instead choosing to reflect the October Sky and its moods. I saw it red from sunsets, blue from clear skies and littered with tiny white clouds, darkp black from the night sky.
I loved driving the narrow, curvy roads, where the canopies of trees would obscure the sky and in many cases, the road ahead. I learned to love the isolation this sort of road inspired.
One Monday, I hiked to the top of Mount Major and looked out across the lake, and though this image is not mine, it conveys exactly what I could see. I sat on that very rock and looked out that same way. From the summit, you could see forever and if you have ever been in New England, you know how rare that sort of view can be.
When I returned to Wolfeboro in the spring of 2002, I took Sheryl to this place and while the colors were strikingly different, It was still an incredible view. In fact, if I could pick one place to be right now, today, I would choose the summit of Mount Major.
Another view by Harry Lichtmen Photography.