Monday, January 23, 2012

A Winter's Day

Winter solitude--
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.
-- Basho

Finally, last week, winter came to the house by the sea. I've been meaning to preserve and write about these lovely images I captured the day after it snowed. They are especially beautiful today, as we are in the midst of a winter thaw. Sigh. When I see the eloquence of snow-covered trees, the drear of winter lessens. I've noticed that winter in Maine is a time in which our outside and inside are clearly divided. The house becomes truly a cave - full of warmth, chaos (in my case), laughter, tears, smells of richly spiced food and damp snow clothes. I need only to step outside into Basho's world of one color to immediately feel calm. The summer doesn't have this sharp definition - our outside and insides mingle with screened porches and bare skin - we have no need to fetter ourselves in heavy trappings of warmth and protection when we venture out. To a mama tucked into her house with two children quite often, this calm, this frozen peace outside is an intense relief. Blueberry and I trucked out into our little woods between the yard and the stream that carries itself to the cove on the morning I took this photos and the stillness caught us both. The silence of snow; the muffled world created by 6 new inches of white stuff was entrancing. This year, so far, has been the winter that wasn't, so the snow was all the more magical. Blueberry explored newly minted "caves" made from branches under the weight of glistening snow. We pretended to be Arctic explorers collecting "samples" and then snow fairies, painting the world winter white.

I can remember the heavy stillness of snow from my childhood. It was lovely to escape the house full of five children and run off into the woods, flopping down onto the expertly padded ground and tucking myself under the laden branches of a hemlock or spruce tree. Gazing up through those branches, snug away from my "real life," I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could be anywhere in space or time. I never really settled on anything, though. It was more the feeling of clean blankness, escape; recognition that the snow gave me respite from being something and allowed me just to be. The stillness out there was tangible. The stillness out here - it's the same as then.

The warmth of spring and summer awakens us, recreates us, makes us choose what we are and will be, but in the dead of winter, there is only this lovely void.

The stillness outside in the winter turns us inward. And we find that inside we, too, are all white, canvas-like; there is only potential here. Only the sound of wind.

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