October, life still

Today’s featured photograph is a seasonal still life celebrating the harvest in the Northern Hemisphere. In my mother tongue, the translation of still life is “natureza morta”. “Natureza morta”, in turn, means “dead nature”. Although the winter is short here in the Central Valley of California, and definitely not very cold, life seems mostly dead after the harvest, through January.

I grew up in a tropical country with only two seasons, wet season and dry season. The wet season is the summer, when it rains way more than the earth can absorb. The dry season is the winter, when it rains less.

California has five seasons, an entomology professor once told me: winter, spring, summer, autumn and fly. Fly season is sometime in the end of summer when flies find their way into the house no matter what. All five seasons here now are dry

Yes, there is autumn in California, although not as exuberant as back east. Among the prevalent colors here during this beautiful season, orange is my favorite. A visit to the pumpkin patch this month yielded lots of orange color, a few future pies, photographs, great fun, and the “natureza morta” above.

Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

15 thoughts on “October, life still

  1. Nicely done: your photograph could pass for that of a Dutch painting. If the Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Still_life is correct, the modern Western tradition of still life painting began in the 1500s in the Netherlands, where the word for the genre was stilleven, which English has copied. That raises the question of why the Romance languages went with the alternate term meaning ‘dead nature.’

    A two-season year of rainy versus drier seems common to many tropical countries.

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    1. Thanks. I read that this was one wrong translation … I checked in Italian, French and Spanish all refer to dead nature rather than still life.

      Although two seasons are common in the tropics, in the North of Brazil the dry season is the summer and it rains more in winter.

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  2. Love this pictures and still lifes [yes, that is the plural – I had to look it up to be sure] in general.

    Though I never knew the term ‘natureza morta’ I have often wondered about the term ‘still life’ since nothing in it ever seemed alive to me(except with colour). I can’t find an etymology of it, but have thought it might come from the verb to ‘still’ (i.e. to stop or arrest) and, therefore to stopped or ended life?

    Possibly it might have something to do with an aversion to death among the Germanic people (it’s pretty much ‘dead nature’ in most of the Romance languages, and others … Russian-natyurmort, Basque-natura hila).

    I rather like natureza morta because it reminds us that there is a certain beauty in aging and dying, which I think is something you may have alluded to in the past.

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    1. The “still lifes” is a surprise to me, the spell checker does not want me to write this! One element characterizing Dutch still life is the symbolism of the objects in the frame, and one common symbolism is death, represented by skulls, sand timers, rotting fruit etc. I agree with you that Natureza Morta is a more appropriate term than still life. Nowadays, however, I think people also do still life with plants in a vase and other living things, further complicating the issue 😉

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  3. I was delighted to see the pomegranate and acorns included. Pumpkins, squash, and such are usually given pride of place, but autum is more varied than that. The variety of textures is as pleasing as the colors.

    One of my earliest blog friends, Judy Lovell, also played around with still lifes from time to time. She lives in Florida, so often includes things like shells. She was mostly experimenting, especially with backgrounds, but you might enjoy seeing her approach. Here’s one of my favorites. You can find others by search for ‘still life.’

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