“The Light Within Shadow”

“Among the shadows of the cold forest, the winter beeches shine with unexpected light, filling the darkness with brightness and joyful energy.” – Ed Lehming

Today I’m sharing another image from yesterday’s frigid hike to Walker Woods, a large forested tract close to home that I visit often. The forest itself is largely ‘plantation’ red pines.That is to say, pine trees that have been planted to reestablish lands that had been largely clearcut and farmed in the not so distant past. There are also a few tracts of native hardwoods: maples, oak, elm, beech, and ash, to name but a few. This region has several patches of what is referred to as Carolinian Forest and boasts many species that occur quite a distance south of here, protected by the unique geological features and a large body of water, Lake Ontario which moderate the climate enough for some of the souther species of flora to thrive.

One of the features and primary purpose of ‘plantation’ forests, besides lumber, is that they are planted to shelter tender hardwood species as they grow between the planted trees. The red pines grow fairly fast and straight, leaving room for hardwoods to establish between them. As the pines are harvested, some twenty years after planting, this offers even more room for hardwoods to establish and grow tall.

One of the Carolinian species that thrives in certain parts of the forest is the Beech tree, and in a few isolated locations in the vast tract, the Beeches flourish. I have found many of these locations and find myself constantly drawn to them, as was the case yesterday.

The low winter sun casts dark shadows among the pines, but just enough light finds its way through to set the beeches ablaze, in strong contrast to the shadows of the pines. It’s quite a phenomenon and I think this image illustrates it exceptionally well, as the copper leaves of the beeches glow with a brightness that seems to come from within the leaves themselves.

I also see this analogous to the time we face right now. The constant barrage of negative news saps my strength and I am always looking for something to focus on that brings me some level of joy to face each day. These beeches do that for me and I am happy to be able to capture the effect to take with me once I depart the forest. I’m hoping this image can also bring that sense of cheer to others viewing it here.

iPhone 12 Pro @ 4.2 mm
1/283 sec, f/1.6, ISO 32

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