Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Mellow Yellow

Sunrise from the Kaibab Forest

It’s a long drive up to the North Kaibab Forest and Grand Canyon’s North Rim.  Last week, as always when I’m en route, there was a point when I wondered whether it was worth the trip.  Does it make sense to keep coming back here for Fall color?

Magical Forest Road
Then cruising south on Highway 67 from Jacob Lake I see the first glowing, unfathomable, backlighted aspen trees.  There’s a physical sensation of fullness in my chest, a deep breath mingles with whatever that is, and I’m at peace.

Predawn Glow, Marbleview Point
Yellow is allegedly an activating, energizing color but this scene calms me and quiets the monkey voice in my head every time.  I turn off the radio (even if it is American Top 40 from 1979 on Satellite Radio 70s on 7) and let it all wash over me.

Aspen Abstract
These autumn forest visits are multisensory experiences.  Sure, it’s the visual which hits you first, but there’s also the sound of leaves quaking in the wind and the feel of cool, smooth, powdery aspen trunks.  The leaf litter has a particular, almost sickly-sweet odor which, not too pleasant on its own merits, is forever linked in my hippocampus (brain area which associates odors and memory, among other things) with this joyous communing.  Yes, that’s only four senses.  Sorry, you’re on your own for taste.

Autumn leaves, like spring flowers, are especially precious to us because they’re ephemeral.  This year the wind came up, temperatures dropped, and by the last day of my week there, the show was mostly over.  Perhaps it lasted 2 weeks at the most. 

Leaf litter is a joy as well, as are the buttery gems fluttering down from the trees into my hair, in the car window, and as big yellow snowflakes onto the green conifers, smug with their constancy.

I enlisted my friends in a little diversion, since the theme of the week was “Yellow,” to come up with names of songs with the color in the title.  Here’s what we came up with.  Do you have any more?

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

Yellow Submarine

Tie a Yellow Ribbon

Yellow rose of Texas

Don’t eat the Yellow Snow (Frank Zappa)

Yellow Moon (Neville Brothers)

Big Yellow Taxi

(and of course) Mellow Yellow

More images from the trip are in the Autumn in the West Gallery on the website.


  1. Definitely worth it. The neon yellow almost overwhelmed me. Still a few but mostly brown and down. Maples are fading except on the slopes below the rim. Locust are now yellow. And the currants steal the show with shades of green to yellow fringed with red. California Dreamin', "all the leaves are brown..."