January 3, 2008
My routine 40-step trek to my home studio was interrupted one morning in mid-December as I stopped to witness an ever-changing pattern of winter wonder.
It’s about time winter arrived like a lion in upstate New York. It started with a series of snowfalls, large and small. On this particular day, I did not need to travel to appreciate it. It was a visual extravaganza for my eyes.
For three hours I was captured by the sheer beauty around me, when a mere two inches of fresh, damp, wind driven snow clung to every trunk, branch and remaining leaf. It freshened the dirty snow from a weeks old storm. The wind added its own story by driving the snow to the windward side of all surfaces in its path. The conditions were perfect for a display of winter’s finest offerings.
The white acoustic cushion dulled the sound of distant trucks, cars and trains. The progress of the day slowly pushed the moon away.
South of my living room the sunlight burst through the forest. The sun’s closeness to the horizon forced its rays through a billion crystals into my squinting eyes. Much of my delight was due to an understanding of how little time I had to appreciate this visual treat.
The fleeting fog blurred the background and forced me to look at objects close and dear. The sound of a scraping snowplow was irritating, as it quickly removed the fresh white blanket for fear we might hurt ourselves.
Fresh animal tracks told the story of the previous night’s hunt; birds, deer, and squirrels searching for food now covered.
Fresh snow possesses a soft quiet quality that makes everything appear better than it is in reality. It covers our trash, and the mess that collects in yards, pastures and along the side of highways, due to our neglect, lack of pride and laziness. Soon our footprints, shovels, sand, salt and spray defaced the beauty of the fresh coating, and our activities were fully expressed in the dirtied white canopy.
Once more I squinted to focus on the quickly fleeting beauty that surrounded me. A single red birdhouse floated within the rising fog, making a strong contrast to a hundred shades of white.
Crystalline particles fell slowly from the trees and melted on any dark surface that might be waiting for the warming morning sun.
For a few brief moments my house and yard made me proud to live in the country, free from urban life, suburbia, interstate highways, and their sounds of horns, tires and engines. A long driveway remote from our narrow country road helped.
And people by the thousands escape this wonderland for Florida and other places bland, but warmer? Technology now provides clothing to protect us from all but the most extreme cold and many cultures fully embrace the cold. Am I but a small minority that relishes the winter and the beauty it can provide? I’ll admit all is not enjoyable during our North Country winters. Extreme cold, wind, lack of snow, rain and short days, all can lend a dullness to winter. And winter can be long. But when winter shows its true colors, we are fortunate to be able to walk and slide in it and not complain. It can be a great time of year.