A FLOCK OF WARBLERS ROSE SHARPLY INTO THE CLEAR BLUE SKY. It was noon in the field, although the sun had begun to teeter ever so slightly off from its position perfectly overhead. The crisp, warm leaves of a distant grove dripped off from the branches, like droplets in the sweet drizzles of spring. A rabbit, seeking plumpness before the impending frost of winter, bounded across the field behind a lone golden haystack.

The haystack, however, was not entirely alone. Just a few swift paces away, a wise, elderly man sat serenely in the warm autumn sun. He was hunched over an elaborate scaffold, whose carved arms and oak legs resolutely held up the artwork that the man was so painstakingly absorbed in. His joints moved in a stiff, mechanical manner, marking pigment across the page in a way that was surprisingly smooth. The painting itself was quite unfinished, although it was beginning to show some resemblance to the nearby landscape. Such was the source of the noise that scared away the birds.

The old painter was dressed in a plaid overcoat, his head draped in a cap that signalled for the warmth to stay inside. Out of his mouth hung a chiselled wooden pipe, from which he took deep breaths after several long minutes of observation. The focus was evident in the old man’s behaviour, for he held still for unfathomable amounts of time before making a mere few strokes on the face of his canvas. His brow often creased, as if he was deep in thought.

The sun was waning. in the sky now. About mid-afternoon, as one would perhaps say to an acquaintance. In the silence of the orange field, the artist captured a vivid image of the haystack and its surrounding world. He laid back with a snicker and a grin, pleased at the work that he had managed to produce. Then, the senior painter glanced back at the scene he had captured. The teetering sun had elongated the shadows, warming and mellowing their colours. The trees that made up the backdrop of his painting had lost more of their leaves to the cool, gentle breeze.

The painter frowned and let out a disappointing grunt. He blew a ring of smoke from his pipe before he once again let himself get lost in the construction of his faithful autumn scene. Hours passed as he tweaked the canvas to reflect the ever-increasing beauty of the haystack bathed in sunlight.

Red fingers of sunset settled in to lick the trees and foliage with flames. Orange rings flared up along the horizon, bringing about the beginning of dusk. The man, intently focused on his artistic work, finally decided that it was to be finished. That was until he looked up once again. He fumed, but he returned to work, desperate to capture the finest scenes that nature had to offer.

And so it went until the sun dipped just below the horizon. Covering the world in absolute blackness, the painter was finally forced to acknowledge that he could no longer reproduce the beautiful colours that he had seen. After all, he could no longer even see himself. With this, the old man realised that he was lost in the woods, all dark and chilly in the middle of the night. He contemplated this for a bit. Crickets echoed in the distance. Then, straining his body, the elderly painter rose up and took a stroll through the twinkling forests of the autumn season.

Perhaps he intended to paint a masterpiece. Perhaps he wanted to make it an accurate one. Either way, the old painter had, trying to reach perfection, found himself in a place where he couldn’t even see it.

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