Sunday, January 01, 2012

A tribute to winter white

                 With the absence of snow, my world is anything but white this year. I had hoped for wavy drifts of snow over the steps, piling up an inch or two over the front door. A pale expanse of shimmering lawn under moonlight would have been lovely. I would have settled for a dusting, a light powdering among the trees, outlining their branches. I do so love this!... Not to be. 
However.....I do know how to  make do. To enhance the wintery mood, here is an exerpt from nature writer John Burroughs essay- The Snow Walkers, which I have illustrated by using scenes of white found about the house.

Look up at the miracle of the falling snow,—the air a dizzy maze of whirling, eddying flakes, noiselessly transforming the world, the exquisite crystals dropping in ditch and gutter, and disguising in the same suit of spotless livery all objects upon which they fall. How novel and fine the first drifts! The old, dilapidated fence is suddenly set off with the most fantastic ruffles, scalloped and fluted after an unheard-of fashion! Looking down a long line of decrepit stone wall, in the trimming of which the wind had fairly run riot,

  I saw, as for the first time, what a severe yet master artist old Winter is. Ah, a severe artist! How stern the woods look, dark and cold and as rigid against the horizon as iron! Presently a fox barks away up next the mountain, and I imagine I can almost see him sitting there, in his furs, upon the illuminated surface, and looking down in my direction. 

As I listen, one answers him from behind the woods in the valley. What a wild winter sound, wild and weird up among the ghostly hills!
Since the wolf has ceased to howl upon these mountains, and the panther to scream, there is nothing to be compared with it. So wild! I get up in the middle of the night to hear it. It is refreshing to the ear, and one delights to know that such wild creatures are among us.
 At this season Nature makes the most of every throb of life that can withstand her severity. How heartily she indorses this fox! In what bold relief stand out the lives of all walkers of the snow! The snow is a great tell-tale, and blabs as effectually as it obliterates. I go into the woods, and know all that has happened. I cross the fields, and if only a mouse has visited his neighbor, the fact is chronicled.

In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. Summer is more wooing and seductive, more versatile and human, appeals to the affections and the sentiments, and fosters inquiry and the art impulse. Winter is of a more heroic cast, and addresses the intellect. The severe studies and disciplines come easier in winter. One imposes larger tasks upon himself, and is less tolerant of his own weaknesses. 

All life and action upon the snow have an added emphasis and significance. Every expression is underscored. Summer has few finer pictures than this winter one of the farmer foddering his cattle from a stack upon the clean snow,—the movement, the sharply defined figures, the great green flakes of hay, the long file of patient cows, the advance just arriving and pressing eagerly for the choicest morsels,—and the bounty and providence it suggests. 

Or the chopper in the woods,—the prostrate tree, the white new chips scattered about, his easy triumph over the cold, his coat hanging to a limb, and the clear, sharp ring of his axe. The woods are rigid and tense, keyed up by the frost, and resound like a stringed instrument. 
Or the road-breakers, sallying forth with oxen and sleds in the still, white world, the day after the storm, to restore the lost track and demolish the beleaguering drifts.


  1. What beautiful white calm photos!

    This time until February also the liturgy- color of the church (Christmas-time) is white - also on Easter. We long for white, maybe...

    Here in Bavaria in the valleys we also dont have any snow, only mud around the stables. But on the hills: The white clearness and heavenly farness settled down on the top of the hills. This clears up my mind.

    I dont ask for the snow!! Last year it was so hard to clean the stables,each single day so many new snow, and more and more. My fingers were frozen, the water too, my car, too, and the windows full of snow every hour new. An Antarctica-expedition every day to the stables! Maybe this is because I become old: Old people dont miss the snow. Young people cannot understand this. For me its okay: Stay in the mountains, beloved, clean, wonderful snow!

    (Inspired by the fine poetical text you found here.)

  2. Ah! You are funny Dori! You are welcoming the absence of snow. In that case I am happy for you. ...Although I noticed that the little bit snow on the mountains means something for you, " This clears up my mind."

    I love to marvel at all that snow is.

  3. I am happy you write this to me here now!
    My BEST whishes!