Friday, January 18, 2013

Seasonal Reflections

Well, I’m happy to announce that I’ve basically settled back into my teaching routine.  Christmas break with traveling and sickness and holiday preparations really threw off my groove, but at last life has returned to normal.

However, the result is that I’ve not been thinking particularly ‘writer-ly’ thoughts all week.  When I sat down and opened my word document for the blog, I had to scratch my head a little.  So, just to warn you, I’ll probably write a rather rambling post tonight! 

The chief thing I’ve been thinking about is the weather, actually.  We have weird winters in North Idaho.  Half the time the area behaves like Seattle (wet and grey), and half the time it behaves like Montana (lots of snow, followed by freezing clear days).  I personally am fine with all phases of winter – it’s my favorite time of year – but I admit to preferring the Montana edition of the season. 

Cold and clear and blue!
Right now we’re in the midst of such a period.  We’d been amassing snow slowly, when suddenly the sky cleared and the temperature dropped into the 20’s.  Suddenly the sun was painting the days in marvelous colors – crystal blue, dust purple, petal pink, glass green. 

Best of all, though, is the effect of the river which runs near where I live. During the day, the bright sun shines on it, and then as temperatures drop in the dark, the vapor in the air turns to a glorious thick coat of fog.  By morning, the vapor has solidified into frost crystals which paint every available surface.

Phantom trees against a pastel sunset
Every tree, every weed, every grass-blade is transformed into a diamantine structure.  While the fog lingers through the cold mornings, the scene is pale and ghostly.  Then, in the afternoon, the sunshine slowly clears the air.  At sunset, all the frost-white surfaces catch the beautiful colors in the air, turning pink, orange, purple for a brief time until darkness comes and the process begins again.

This is now the third day of the gorgeous weather.  The pines behind my house are almost solid white, with only the jet black trunks peeking through for contrast.  On the delicate twigs of the elm and rowan, the ice needles are almost half an inch long.  It’s marvelously beautiful.  Pictures are included, so that you can see for yourselves!

Anyway, as I’ve been writing, I’ve realized what a good analogy this fog is.  It sneaks in, leaves its influence everywhere and then flows away again – only to return very soon in the same pattern. 

It’s just like creativity.

Transforming even the smallest things...
So often, our inspiration comes creeping in, unawares, in the night (sometimes even in our dreams!).  Only later on, we look around and realize that it’s touched everything in our lives, transforming it into a wonder.  It has different moods at different times, in different circumstances.  Sometimes it shows us one view of the world, sometimes another. 

Always, however, it is present, touching the things around us with delicate fingers and making them the material of our artistic endeavors.  Without creativity – that double vision which draws our eyes past the mundane to see the deeper beauty – we’d never get anywhere in art.  Even, I dare say, we’d not advance far in life, either. 

One of my favorite poems is Richard Wilbur’s The Beautiful Changes.  Towards the end he writes, ‘The beautiful changes in such kind ways, wishing ever to lose for a moment all that it touches back to wonder.’

I think that the fog has had that kind of beauty for me lately:  it reminds me gently that even the most normal, daily sights and objects are wonderful after all.  Human creativity is like that, too.  It’s kind and always looks for a way to show us a world that is worth turning into art.  

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I really like those color descriptions. Without any sun here in SW PA it has been a dance of greys.
    Last night was the first one in a while that the sky was clear. We had a thick fog the other weekend and it prompted this piece for our friend...