Chad is not a prolific amateur photographer.
Or, he admits, an especially good one. He mostly takes pictures of his kid, or "random crap" that interests him enough to produce the phone from his pocket for a quick snap.
Friday evening, Chad had that very compulsion as he and his wife sat on their deck, enjoying a pleasant evening in suburban Shoreview, about 15 miles north of St. Paul. Chad looked around, and was stopped by the beauty on display in the family home's front-yard tree.
The leaves of the tree, a sugar maple, had produced a palette of greens, pale yellows, pinks, and vivid reds. It was as if all the hues of autumn had arrived at once, and all in one man's suburban front yard. Had he made it to Shoreview, Monet would've been into this tree.
"I just thought it looked really good," Chad recalls. "At that particular moment... it was right around sunset, and getting kind of dusky. I literally just looked to my right and snapped the photo."
And thought nothing more of it. Until the next day, when Chad was perusing the "r/pics" thread of Reddit, a repository of amateur and professional photography of all kinds, and from throughout the world. Chad noticed a number of users were posting shots of the fall colors, and figured the one he'd offer the one he'd absent-mindedly snapped the night before.
"This tree in my front yard," he titled the post.
Next thing Chad knew, the photo had taken on a life of its own, quickly becoming the most popular post on the r/pics thread, then shooting toward the top of the entire crowdsourced site. The photo's swift rise at first seemed "ridiculous" to Chad -- "it's just a tree," he says, accurately -- but he spent some time reading through comments, and has come up with a few theories about its popularity.
First, and most obvious: No one dislikes this photo. With the internet flooded with content that is inherently polarizing, if not deliberately enraging, Chad's tree is, to some, a thing of beauty. At the very worst, it's a benign signal of the passage of time.
"I thought it was kind of positive, and cool, and not like some of the usual negative crap people see [online]," he says. "A handful of people didn't really care about it, and questioned why it had gotten so many upvotes -- which I totally get."
Second, Chad's tree's tranformation is something Minnesotans, and people who live in cold-weather states in general, come to take for granted. (See here for more evidence of how spoiled we are with fall colors.) Many of the people commenting on his photo lived in the South or the West, and observed wistfully that the trees in their warmer climates didn't ever look like this.
Not that Chad's did for long, either. By Sunday, the tree had become "considerably more yellow," Chad reports, and the previous day's wind had blown many of the bright leaves off of it... and down into Chad's front yard.
"It was gorgeous that day, on Friday," Chad says of his tree. "Now it's just a lot of work."
Previously, in This is a Good Thing:
- This is a good Minnesota T-shirt
- This is a good Minnesota sports moment
- This is a good 'parking ticket'
- This is a good election night tweet
- This is a good mayor guy
- This is good Minnesota graffiti
- This is a good baby announcement
- This is a good obituary photo