Here in central Indiana, the trees changed colors slowly and dropped their leaves late. It made autumn seem to last a good long time. I know that autumn lasts the same amount of time every year regardless of the trees! But when the trees are bare, to me that’s when winter begins.
We had some good color this year, with strong reds and oranges abounding. I didn’t make a huge number of photos — some of them are on the roll of Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 sitting here on my desk needing to be sent off for processing — but here are some that show our color this year.
I want to shoot slide film in the autumn, to capture all the color. You’d think I’d also want to shoot slide film in the spring, which is equally colorful. But no. In my mind, slide film is for autumn.
This slide film was a gift from Marcus Peddle, who sent it all the way from Korea. He sent me four rolls; I shot two of them this time. Thanks Marcus! It’s Fujifilm Velvia 50 in 120, so I put it into my Yashica-12.
I shot mostly around the house and along Zionsville’s Main Street, although I did shoot a little in Indianapolis, which I’ll share in a later post.
Downtown Zionsville is such a rich photography environment. We won’t live here forever — Zionsville is nice and all, but I miss Indianapolis a lot. After we move, though, I will miss being able to quickly pop downtown for some photography.
I’ve shot the Yashica-12 a lot in the last year or so, and I’m getting much better at using the grid on the focusing screen to make my subject straight.
In “the village” (as we call Zionsville within its original town limits), people take holidays seriously. Many homes decorate extensively.
The Main Street shops place season-appropriate stuff on the sidewalk. For this photo I should have chosen a narrower aperture and a slower shutter speed to get more depth of field.
I got the focus right on this one, and I love the shadow play.
This florist could have done more to decorate the front of this shop, but the pastel color of the window frames and door often make me stop for a photograph.
Closer to home, the trees along the back entrance to my subdivision were just starting to change when I made this. As I write this, every tree is ablaze with red, yellow, and orange. But I wrote this on the day before Halloween. By the day this post publishes, most of these leaves will have fallen.
On what was probably one of the last warm afternoons of the year, I rode my bike on my usual Indiana cornfield route.
County Road 700 recently got a fresh layer of asphalt. The farmer along this stretch of road has begun to mow down his cornstalks, which have turned brown with age. Over the road, that one branch has started to turn red and orange.
Folks, this is about as Indiana as it gets this time of year!
In the spring, I thought that lockdown might flatten the pandemic curve (remember that phrase?) enough that life could return to normal in the summer. I was willing, eager even, to press pause on seeing family and especially friends — to just stay home — for the greater good. But now it’s clear that we’re in this for months longer yet, easily through the winter and possibly even longer.
I’m mighty introverted and love spending time alone, but even I need some human contact. I feel it deeply — I’m not getting enough, even though I live with my wife and some of our children and thus have company whenever I want it. To be whole and healthy, I need to see family that doesn’t live here, and I need to see my friends. Videoconferencing hasn’t been a good enough substitute.
Obviously, risk of COVID increases the more you interact with people outside your household. My wife and I have read a number of articles about it, articles that were as agenda-free as we could find. The consensus is that when you spend time with people outside your household, the lowest-risk way to do it is outside, where whatever people around you breathe out dissipates into the air. Distancing of at least six feet, or masks when that’s not possible, further reduces the risk.
Indiana businesses are open again with a few restrictions (though in at least one county bars remain closed). This appears to have signaled a return to normal for many Hoosiers. I see people spending time in each others’ homes, riding in each others’ cars, and having meals inside restaurants. It saddens me to see it, as this behavior only spreads the virus.
My wife and I are still playing it conservatively — from our observation, much more conservatively than most. But we have loosened up some. Isolation has been hard on us and has contributed to our low moods. Right now, we do see our friends and extended family outside. We are beginning to travel together in limited fashion to places where we spend most of our time outside. We choose to take on what we believe is a small amount of COVID risk to get the mental health benefits of human interaction and being in the world.
We’re getting as much of it in now as we can, because this window will close when winter weather arrives. Indiana winters are cold and snowy, sharply limiting outdoor activity. I never look forward to winter, but I dread this coming winter more than any other in my life because it will mean intense isolation.
We’ve had occasional picnics in a Zionsville park and invited children, siblings, and parents who live in central Indiana. We’re having another on Sunday. We’ve taken dinner to my mom’s a couple times, and eaten it with her on her patio. A couple weeks ago my team at work had a socially distanced picnic together. And I’m starting to see friends a little, always outside, with reasonable distancing. On Tuesday I saw my brother and a mutual colleague for the first time since February. We met at a restaurant with a great whiskey selection, and sipped a couple bourbons on the patio while we caught up. It was wonderful.
Yesterday I took the afternoon off and drove to southern Indiana to meet my younger son, Garrett, at a state park. His mom moved way out into the country with her husband after he retired, and that’s where Garrett lives when he’s not away at college. The state park is about 20 minutes from his home. I don’t remember exactly the last time I saw Garrett, but it was before the pandemic and might have been a long ago as January. I’ve not gone this long without seeing him since he was born. We went for a long hike, and talked. It slaked a deep thirst.
My wife and I have also booked an Airbnb apartment in downtown Louisville for an upcoming weekend. Since we married, we’ve made a point of taking a long weekend away every three months. With all the hard stuff we’ve lived through, these trips help us remember that we love each other and enjoy each other’s company very much. Our last trip was in January. We need to get away. We chose an Airbnb apartment rather than a hotel because we think there’s some risk advantage to a single unit over a room in a large building. We were also able to learn about the owner’s cleaning practices in detail, and they satisfy us. While there, we hope to walk through downtown Louisville photographing its architecture and enjoying meals outside at restaurants. But if it rains all weekend we will buy groceries, make our own meals, and watch Netflix together. If this weekend trip is like all the others we’ve taken, we’ll return renewed in our relationship.
One of our sons moved out a few weeks ago. It brought us no joy as he’s on an unsustainable life path that will go badly for him. It’s been deeply stressful for all of us who live here. He is also estranged from the mother of his child. After he moved out we reached out to the mother, who has since been generous in bringing our granddaughter for visits. We were thrilled when the mother offered to make the visits to be regular, weekly if we can swing it, to build strong bonds.
Already bad weather has backed us into a corner, and we’ve allowed them into our home. We have reasonable assurance that the mother is managing pandemic risk as well as she can, and she has the same reasonable assurance from us. But in the end you never can really know and every person you add to your bubble only increases your risk. And again, winter is coming; the cold and snow will sharply limit our ability to see our granddaughter outside. We’ve judged that the better thing is for us to have time with our granddaughter, so we invite her and her mother in. We hope we’re right.
Finally, I’m getting outside for walks and bike rides as much as I can. It’s a solitary activity and so I’m at no COVID risk. But the exercise is good for my body, mind, and spirit in these hard times. I figure I have about six more weeks on the bike before temperatures are too chilly for me to ride without special gear — it’s amazing how cold your hands, ears, and face get on the bike below about 60 degrees. I don’t enjoy wearing cold-weather gear on the bike, but this year it will be worth me investing in some so I can ride for as long as I can.
Walking will be easy enough and not unpleasant until the temps drop below zero Fahrenheit. Then I’ll break out my heaviest coat, a Korean War-era wool-lined Army trench that has blocked every cold I’ve thrown at it for the 35 years I’ve owned it. But walk I will, all winter. I’m making that commitment now. It will help me get through the long, lonely winter.
Autumn trees at Crown Hill Yashica-12 Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8-2006)
I went to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis to photograph autumn color. But most trees were still green; peak was two weeks away. That Saturday afternoon would be the only day I could get away for this photo trip, and I knew it, so I acted.
I used to live a couple miles from Crown Hill and visited it often for photography. I’ve lived in Zionsville, 15 miles away, for two years now and miss visiting the place. But that’s no excuse. My house and Crown Hill are both right by exits of Interstate 65. Especially in the light traffic of a Saturday afternoon I can be there in 20 minutes.
I took the Yashica-12 and a roll of the original Fujifilm Velvia to Crown Hill Cemetery to photograph some autumn color.
A friend sent me this roll of Velvia a few years ago. It’s the original Velvia, code RVP, expired since August of 2006 but always stored frozen. I’d forgotten about it until the fridge in the garage died. It was where I stored my film.
The Velvia had been on my mind ever since. I hoped to bring it out at autumn’s peak, but wow has life been busy. I had a three-hour window one Saturday what turned out to be two weeks before peak. I loaded the Velvia into the Yashica-12 and headed for Crown Hill Cemetery.