Gray. Old snow, tired snow – tired of waiting for more snow, it’s hard, icy,
tightening its grip wherever it remains.
I add two more Christmas trees to my ‘corridor’ (eleven, total). I
sprinkle some corn and birdseed into it to give the chipmunks and
mice an incentive to use it.
I go out again, looking for something – I don’t know what –
to give meaning to the dampness, the grayness, the lack of anything
(sunlight, warmth, color, wind, precipitation) that might spark my
interest in the landscape. Luckily, it’s not too cold – in the 20s –
so I can take my time. I look more closely, to try to find what I’ve
been missing. (This picture gives me an inkling… it looked flat and
featureless when I took it, but a little computer enhancement reveals
a motion and depth I didn’t expect.)
There’s a birch tree, dead. They die young around here – too much
moisture in the soil, I think. Their soft wood and thin bark make
them perfect snags. They’re quickly stripped of their bark and
peppered with holes, wood chips scattered on the ground.
There are leaves, also dead – a crumpled maple here, an almost-buried
oak there. And I notice a lot of pairs – weeds, leaves, thorns – especially
thorns, sharp and unforgiving. They seem harder and sharper than usual,
black against the snow.
At the end of one branch of thorns I see a few strands of hair –
scraped from the hide of a deer, I imagine, though they look too
curly for that.
At the base of one big oak, moss emerges from the snow, still green
despite subzero cold. Looking down on it I realize I’m seeing a
familiar landscape in miniature – rocky outcrops, deep ravines and
trees clinging to their sides, with roiling white water at the bottom.
Finally, at the end, I find a gem: a bird’s nest, abandoned for the
season, its residents long departed for warmer climes. It sits deep
in a young tree, just at the edge of an open marsh. The furniture is
all covered in sheets, pushed to the sides, but still it looks comfortable
– even warm. I head for home.