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The Irony of the Red Tree

TO THE PEOPLE I MEET global warming is something that happens someplace else or is something off in the far future, even if that future is just five or ten years away. We talk about it, about how serious it might be and then drop the topic and never return to it.

I am left with this kind of spacey feeling that the earth isn't really important. It has always been there and always will be. And the stuff they need (like food and gasoline) just materializes. They may admire my photographs, but they are a separate category not really having anything to do with the Earth. Fracking, strip mining and carbon dioxide are not part of the picture except for an occasional news story. And if the weather turns bad they head home, which they take for granted just like the Earth.

IN 2001 WHEN I WAS FINISHING photographing for my book, The Illuminated Walden (Barnes & Noble, 2002), to honor the publication of Henry David Thoreau's iconic book Walden, I found myself hunting for color at a time of year when it should have been plentiful but I was relieved when I found it since color like this was becoming scarce.

It seems ironic that this happened in connection with Thoreau, often considered the first environmentalist. I was fortunate to find the tree at Walden Pond and to be there at sunset. I went back to the same spot in 2015 at about the same time in the fall and made a panoramic photo of the whole shore of the pond. Nary a red leaf in sight.

AFTER A FEW MORE YEARS I realized that there was no longer a fall season at all. Summer simply blended into a milder winter and November, once the most miserable month of the year, had disappeared.

Now November is shirtsleeve weather and fall, and red, are gone.

Sunset Through Red Leaves, Walden Pond I
Sunset Through Red Maple Leaves, Walden Pond, 2001
Spring Flowers
Walden Pond, Autumn, 2015
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