After 311 outings down Piney Woods Church Road this year, I will confess that, while each day ineluctably brings new wonders, some days are far more wondrous than others. There are days that I drag my feet, stop everywhere to look for something inviting to photograph, and still reach the far end of the road without a single photograph. Then, nearly desperate, I find something satisfying enough to be sufficient, and I hurry off home. There are other days, however, like today — days when everywhere I look there are new possibilities for the camera lens, new glimpses into nature’s riches just a short distance beyond my back door. Those are the days when I return home with 40, 60, 80 or more photographs, and I cannot choose between them all.
My late afternoon visit today was a magical autumn ramble. Everywhere I looked, the colors of the season blazed forth in all their glory.
Ready to greet me upon my arrival was this sassafras tree, on fire with shades of red, orange, and yellow.
Further down the road, a lone hickory still glowed with leaves of yellow-orange.
The late-day sun shone through strands of horsehair on a barbed wire fence along the roadway, beckoning me near.
Even a roadside grass long gone to seed seemed touched with glory.
Nearby, a backlit leaf of a white oak sapling nearly overwhelmed me with its brilliant colors.
Even a muscadine leaf — a subject of numerous photographs across the span of the year — was illuminated with such beauty that I simply had to take its picture yet again.
Perhaps the most amazing discovery of all was not a leaf, but an insect visitor. I was delighted to encounter this Buckeye (Junonia coenia) resting in the sunlight beside the road. For all the flowers that have bloomed over the past half-dozen months, this was the first Buckeye I have seen on my walk. And there was not a flower in sight!