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After months of long, sun drenched days, there comes a time when Mother Nature makes it abundantly clear it is time to bid adieu to summer. This yearly occurrence always involves some resistance at first, and I usually find myself thinking the following statements: "How did summer go by so fast?" and "I can finally swim in the bay and feel my toes at the same time and now it's over?" as well as "Didn't I just put the shovel away?". Once these thoughts start flowing it is usually too late; the predictable signs of a changing season are raging full steam ahead. Kids go back to school, days get shorter, nights get cooler and treetops become touched with tinges of color. Even as I find myself yearning for just a few more weeks of summer bliss, the photo enthusiast inside of me is secretly chomping at the bit, because fortunately, I know this special part of the world well, and I know how she looks draped in autumn's cloak of color.
The season of fall is a favorite of mine for so many reasons. Although representing an "ending" of sorts, it conversely offers a fresh perspective for the visual, auditory and olfactory senses. The sound of leaves rustling in the wind, the smell of campfires and earthiness in the air along with the sudden burst of vivid color everywhere are a perfect soul soothing trifecta. Autumn is an amazing antithesis to spring. The brilliant hues of new growth have come full circle in their lifespan and are now transitioning to the final phase of existence. Acres of farm fields filled with corn and other crops gradually ripen to a beautiful golden brown color that seem to glow on clear, sunny days. The freshness of leaves and flowers from spring bloom transform into mature, vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow. Put these together with the backdrop of a striking blue sky and you have yourself a visual masterpiece like none other.
"Rural Beauty at Dawn" taken north of Sturgeon Bay
Harvest time on the peninsula is prime for photography. The orchard industry that is so gracious in its beauty during the spring and summer months, continues to offer a stage for the digital show to go on. Rows of fruit trees once covered in flowers become filled with luscious, ripe, red apples. The sight of weathered wooden crates stacked randomly alongside these trees always seems to catch my eye and give me pause to pull over and start snapping. I think the reason I am so drawn to these rural scenes is the fact that they represent the simplicity of life; a nostalgia of sorts for a way of living that is slowly disappearing as the world evolves. Door County is so special in the fact that it truly preserves this feeling in so many ways in land, agriculture and lifestyle.
"An Apple a Day" represents the annual harvesting of the apple crop
Another fact that makes photography so rewarding during these months is the existence of a prominent local farm culture. This becomes very apparent when you happen to pull up to one of the quaint farm stands, markets or wineries located all over the county during the months of September and October. These little gold mines offer a fabulous mixture of color, texture and shape to capture with your camera of choice. Somehow, the owners of these places seem to have an affinity for strategically placing dried corn stalks, hay bales and pumpkins in such a way that you wonder if they were ever former creative designers for a national home living magazine! Many locals also share their bounty with cute homemade stands located conveniently at the end of driveways. Paying on the "honor system" is still practiced in these parts and reaffirms the kind and friendly nature of the people here.
"Pumpkins-A-Plenty" captured in Egg Harbor at a local farm stand
"As Fresh as it Gets" organic gardens at Waseda Farms in Baileys Harbor
Speaking of local crop culture, I haven't even mentioned the best part about it which is the food! When I walk through a farmers market on a crisp, cool fall morning, it seems like the saturation level of all the produce is cranked up a few notches. The bright orange pumpkins and gourds contrast so well with the large variety of crops, flowers and other crafty items. The vibe feels slower and more relaxed, probably because all of the hard work of spring and summer are finally nearing completion. I enjoy taking my time and savoring the sight of tables stacked with various vegetables, flowers and fruits that rest motionless as the hustle and bustle occurs all around them. Goodies made from the local fare can be found everywhere; jams, breads, fresh pressed ciders, caramel apples and pies are just a few of the things that can get taste buds salivating in no time. I am so grateful for access to this fresh food as well as the individuals who make divine creations with it. Food, in its raw natural state, can be quite interesting and fun to photograph if you just take your time and look all around you.
In closing, I have just shared a few snippets of what the "thumb of Wisconsin" has to offer during its harvest months. I hope you are as excited as I am to get out and experience the magical beauty of autumn's arrival. From the colorful, canopied, country lanes to the cedar lined miles of shoreline and everything in between, there exists countless compositions just waiting to be discovered. Venturing out during this time of year rarely disappoints. Not only does my camera's memory card get filled, but my car as well, with a wide array of "taste of Door County" to enjoy and share with family and friends. Which reminds me, I actually need to go now and check on what happened to that apple pie I recently brought home....
"The Missing Piece" portrays local bounty transformed into mouthwatering goodness.
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