The quest for Autumn: Windows XP's elusive backdrop

It's no secret that people have been fascinated, or at least intrigued, by wallpapers and screensavers since the desktop first graced their eyes, and judging by the sheer multitude of websites and man-hours devoted to perfecting the screen that you so rarely see once you launch that first app, it's also no shock to hear a tale of such obsession. Although Autumn may not be most people's default background in Windows XP, it's still well regarded, and for one Vanity Fair writer, it sparked a worldwide quest to find its origin. Expecting the task to be one of relative ease in the age of email, meta tags, and digital archives, he began by questioning the usual suspects about its humble beginnings, but to his dismay, was turned down time and time again by rights protectors who wouldn't divulge the author nor location of such a highly prized stock photograph. Eventually, his entire team was onboard in a furious (albeit seemingly futile) search to discover precisely where this image was shot, once leading to thoughts of permanent relocation if the locale was finally unearthed. After what seemed like months of running into brick walls, an email to Bill Gates himself resulted in an apparently automated response that belted out nothing more but the snapshot's place of origin, which incited fits of jovial celebration office-wide. To Campbellville, Ontario, Canada they headed, in desperate need to visit the orangey area so burned into their memories, and thanks to the purportedly mysterious workings of a co-worker, they even landed the shooter's name. Eventually, the journey led them to a rarely traveled path in the city of Burlington, where the old Harris Homestead quietly sat behind a vigilant row of bare trees surrounded by glistening white snow. It truly was Winter, at last for the adventurous crew, but it certainly gives us pause when deciding whether or not to seek out the origin of Ascent and Azul in our spare time.