My day was made when part-time Essex resident Kelly Youngs-Schmitt shared these fun photographs on Facebook.
Kelly’s a relatively new acquaintance (although her Essex connection is far deeper, longer and more historically significant than my own.) But the Facebook-powered social web and the curiously compelling Essex DNA have brought us together. She participates in the Essex on Lake Champlain community blog, and she generously shares the stories and artifacts from her family’s Essex past.
That curiously compelling Essex DNA is in no small part responsible for our decision to relocate here. It’s an elusive topic, one that surfaces and then almost as quickly vanishes again throughout this blog. Like Champ, the Lake Champlain monster, who so many have experienced, but few can clearly and concisely explain or even prove… Essex exerts a quasi-mystical pull on many of us. I suppose the closest analogy would be a large, loosely knit family or a college or prep school that becomes woven into your fibers in a way that you can never quite grasp. You meet a cousin or a fellow alum for the first time and instantly you are drawn to one another, despite only the most nominal connection.
No, these analogies falter. Because living in Essex, even for a few short weeks at a time, forges far deeper, far more relevant connections. Human connections. Civic connections. Architectural, cultural and historic connections. Environmental connections too, for so much of Essex’s magnetism is derived from its geographically perfect location between Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. Access to nature and outdoor recreation, year-round, often elicits the “playground” analogy to the annoyance of some. Certainly far more than play happens in these sacred waters, valleys, hills and mountains. But it’s true that this environment is a proverbial fountain of youth. It invites childhood energy and dreams and playfulness, so in a sense it is a metaphorical playground.
But I’m wandering far from my starting point which was Kelly’s photographs shown here.
October Wind & Canada Geese
Despite the on-again-off-again Indian Summer that we’ve enjoyed this autumn, there have been some bracing days, many like the one captured in these photos. Picture perfect. Bluebird skies and sunshine. But crisp. And windy. That “selfie” in the canoe captures what I’m describing. Kelly’s husband, James W. Schmitt, is pretty well bundled up!
You can practically hear the Canada Geese clamoring across the sky or settling onto the lake for a deserved rest. This time of year vast flocks of Canada Geese ply the skyways from early morning late into the night. It’s the soundtrack of Essex autumn. And Essex spring. And while no Canada Geese are visible in Kelly’s photos, I know they are there. Honking.
There’s something else that’s not visible in the photos: summer sunshine. In addition to Canada Geese, Technicolor fall foliage, and the Gingko shedding its leaves suddenly, dramatically, another autumn highlight is the changing light. During midsummer these photographs would have been bathed in a considerably stronger, more orange hued light. But as autumn advances, even the brightest daylight shifts toward buttery yellow hues and flatter light. This is particularly apparent in the photograph of Rosslyn and the boathouse. They appear to be off-white. And while some credit for this may be due the camera or phone, the reality is simply that the paint colors appear fainter, less pigmented in the autumn light, even in the early morning when the sun rises up out of Vermont’s Green Mountains displaying its most colorful rays of the day.
Hmmm… A meandering, ruminating post if there ever was one. Time to wrap up!