I watch this morning for the light that the darkness has not overcome.
I watch for the glow of light that gleams in the growing earth and glistens in the sea and sky.
Grant me the grace of seeing this day. Grant me the grace of seeing.
~ a Celtic Benediction (excerpted) J. Philip Newell
January has brought the Hudson Valley Region of upstate New York several significant snow storms – more than in recent history. We shoveled, salted, plowed. We packed and stoked our wood stoves to stave off the bitter cold and wind chills that seeped into every fiber and bone of our bodies. Then it rained ice. Some called it sleet, or a “wintry mix”. I listened as it pelted my studio’s metal roof on and off throughout the day and then, once ensconced in front of my wood stove, I observed through my wide living room windows the power lines and tree limbs yielding to the weight of layering ice. The tone of the day was restrained. Quiet. Except for the heavy sound of the ice rain.
The following morning I gingerly stepped onto my icy walkway, camera in hand, to my car. I packed every corner and small space in my wood stove for I knew I would be out for the day taking in the aftereffects of the snow and ice that created a winter wonder not unlike Camelot, or what I recalled from the movie’s opening scenes so very many years ago: Ice. Snow. Magic.
My attention was immediately caught by a crackling sound that came from everywhere. At first, I thought it was the snow shower that had just begun adding even more pristine quality to what already was quite remarkably pure. For everything my eyes could see was flawless: white, virginal, creating a scene of crystals hanging, clinging, and crackling – especially the trees. The glass trees. But more about these trees later.
I ventured onto the back roads, though not yet fully plowed, and found the world transformed into an architecture that can only belong to winter. I stopped the car and as I emerged I was confronted with an open field and a lone tree. No architect but nature could create something so perfect with the strength of its long, straight trunk and its slender branches reminiscent of a corps de ballet as they arched and extended, mostly upwards, into graceful positions.
Opposite the great, lone tree was the beginning of a heavily wooded area. Stanchioned black tree trunks supporting heavily ladened white, crystalized snow branches was yet another affirmation of my “movie memory” of a Camelot winter.
I wended my way through the trees while listening to the crackling of ice crystals and found one limb that required my macro lens. Out it came for these sylphlike icicles were not to be ignored for they were tiny and ephemeral.
Satisfied and thinking there was not much more I could really do, I decided to drive over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge into Columbia county. I have identified some private pathways and hideouts for my meanderings, especially around the Hudson River. On my way to the River, a bend in the path illuminated the extravaganza of snow, light, and dare I say, a touch of magic around the corner.
And magic there was! For when I climbed the pathway further, I came to a meadow with low-lying crystalized grasses and one tree. This tree did not have the elegance of the first, but it had a very special resident.
I knew then that my Camelot theme was real. And, when I looked higher than where The Owl perched, my eyes saw the “house” where Frederick Church painted his renowned works.
Light was beginning to fade fast, so I started for home. When I arrived, I continued to hear the trees crackle. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could capture these magical trees. This image was taken as the sun’s last light of the day passed over the mountain, leaving just enough light to illume the amazing glitter on these trees of glass.
The harshness of the ice storm faded throughout the day as I observed nature’s artwork. I forgot about the shoveling, salt, and hauling wood into the house to feed the stove. I loved every sparkling piece of ice crystal, the stark, strong black tree trunks, the virginal snow blanketing the land, and the mystical owl who watched me for some time releasing the shutter of my camera. I think it is not mere coincidence that he showed me his profile. Not at all. I am so grateful for his guidance and patience. So very grateful to do what was given me to do.
B l e s s e d B e.