Autumn Fire

Cover image ‘Oughterard  Bog’ by Deobrah Watkins

 

I’ve just written this piece for the next issue of the Connemara Journal. I took the photo above on Tuesday – the colour of the landscape here in Autumn is breathtaking and this year is no exception. Never mind New England in the Fall, what about Connemara in the Fall?

 

October stepped in quietly this year and gave us days of unexpected sunshine and warmth beyond anything we might normally expect.  The long hot Summer has already ensured that 2013 will be remembered far into the future. I’ve always loved the colours of the landscape in late Autumn – an in between time of growth and rest. Since the bog fires in April, the grasses have changed from their luminous green shoots into fields of warm brown and again over the last few weeks into a lustrous fiery orange. When the wind is up, the now tall grasses appear to move like flames and give off an imagined heat through their colour. There’s a very particular kind of light at this time because the sun is at it’s lowest. When there’s moisture in the air, there’s a flatness to the sky that reaches around everything and blurs the horizon. It always makes me think of a theatre stage where the light is low and objects appear edgy and sharpened. Keat’s describes this aspect of the season in his poem ‘To Autumn’;

 

‘barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, and touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue’

 

(from ‘To Autumn’ by John Keats 1795-1821). 

 

Bog painting as I left it

‘Land Interrupted’ by Deborah Watkins

 

 

The American poet Emily Dickinson speaks about Autumn light in her poem ‘There’s a certain Slant of light’ written in 1861;

 

‘when it comes, the Landscape listens –

Shadows – hold their breath –

 

(from There’s a certain Slant of light’ by Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886)

 

Enigmatic lines appropriate for a season where colour and light are heightened briefly before they are dulled again. Keat’s poem ‘To Autumn’ is first and foremost an ode of praise while Dickinson uses the season as a metaphor for change and the difficult acceptance of ageing. I think that both poets and many like them recognise the beauty of the season as it exists poignantly on the edge of Winter but perfectly and eternally not yet Winter.

 

Winter's end landscape almost finished

Landscape by Deborah Watkins

Charred Ground

I took these photographs recently which show the aftermath of the gorse fires here in Connemara. They show the extent of the damage – massive areas of land have been blackened by the fires right up to the roadside.

 

The charred roadsides near Moyard

 

 

 

 

I sometimes wonder about the benefits v disadvantages of my near total ignorance of the technical business of photography. These pictures were taken on my trusted Fugifilm camera which I’ve had for about five years. I realised that it was on a ‘sunset’ setting after I had taken most of my photos. I subsequently changed to the ‘auto’ button which is supposed to find the optimum setting for the prevailing conditions. However, the last pictures I took ( of which this is not the worst example below ) were a horrible blue colour and poorly reflected the actual light conditions at the time. The former photos have a lovely sepia tinge to them which accentuated the actual light, giving them an old, other worldly feel.

 

Photo of charred landscape with bluish tinge

 

 

 

 

I suppose that I quite enjoy the accidental nature of these small discoveries while I have to admit that more knowledge on the technical front would not be a bad thing. The prospect of acquiring this information has just never seemed very appealing to me and I am indebted to my camera which (for the most part ) does the job for me..

Here’s some more photos – I like the desert like feel to this one below.

 

Charred ground after the gorse fires

 

 

 

 

This last one might just have been good old Kansas before Dorothy was wooshed up into the sky..

It is in fact the last stretch of open bog on the road to Moyard/Letterfrack.

 

Fields of ash, near Moyard after the fires