Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Exploring a winterscape

The storm is over, but it left a snowy wonderland in its wake. Looking out upon it all, a strange, disjointed mix of emotion is conjured - at once beautiful and oppressive, light and dark, ethereal and lonely. It is a soul-stirring scene, portrayed almost as if it were a dream.

Enchanted Forest

Everyone is all dressed in white. I almost expect to see the Ice Queen emerge from the forest, making a grand entrance from one of the many openings created by the bowed trees. She has opted to send the Snowflake Fairies in her place instead. The tiniest flakes are falling - drifting lazily, effortlessly - touching down in silence. They glide in on graceful wings, each different from the last, their uniqueness making them all the more beautiful.

The Snowflake Fairies

The forest looks alternately enchanted and eerie. The trees are arched in unnatural positions, some bent almost in half, and seem unsure whether to welcome you with their outstretched arms or whether to warn you that they could snap without warning under the strain. The clogged branches limit visibility from our house to the road. They even limit visibility of the sky. It's a unique feeling, having the trees bearing down on you in this way - a feeling that would likely be unwelcome to a claustrophobe. The beech and oak trees weep the most, their stubbornly leafed branches draping gracefully toward the ground. Most are resilient and will spring back when the thaw begins. Others, though, especially the fragile Redbuds, may not fare as well.

Trees bend down to block out the sky

What must the birds think of all this... mess? One might think that the drooping branches would interfere with their flight patterns, but apparently they do not. Even though I cannot spot them from afar as easily as usual, they seem to have no trouble navigating this modified landscape. Their focus is singular: food. Or more broadly defined: survival. They have no storm team forecasters in their midst (that we know of), so they have to get as much nourishment as they can find as quickly as possible. For all they know, the seed and suet will run out tomorrow and the snow could be around for an eternity, so eat up!


The landscape is monochrome, painted in shades of white and gray. Cloud-filled skies, dark and dreary, offer an odd contrast to the brightly flocked trees. The trunks and branches of the shrubs and trees offer welcome breaks of color amidst the sea of white. As one approaches the flora, hints of other colors become apparent. Vibrant moss, lichen and fungi remind us that, despite the seemingly void feeling of this bleak winterscape, things are very much alive. And very much beautiful.


Gabrielle said...

Stunning photographs and equally stunning writing, Heather. I do hope the redbud trees are okay, they are one of my favorites.

Beyond The Garden said...

Interesting, I'm I live not too many miles west of you, sorta across from Marietta. Our snows are similar, and now viewing your blog after writing my own, I see we were both attracted to the green lichen. http://beyondmygarden.blogspot.com/

Priscilla said...

Heather, your photos are simply stunning. How beatifully you show the winter storm! I love how black and white things look--until you get closer. I too am impressed with how easily the birds navigate in icy cold weather. They slow down a bit maybe, but they don't seem at all daunted by cold and snow. I'm not that adaptable!

Ginnymo said...

Your photos are beautiful Heather!! I love to see the fresh white snow on everything. I didn't know the mushrooms lived through the winter. They look pretty too, against the white of winter. That bluish photo is beautiful!!

Carol Mattingly said...

Fantastic Heather. Just fantastic. Carol

ksdoolittle said...

Hi Heather, it's me, Karen (KaHolly). This is my "all things Cape Breton" blog! I so enjoyed your post today. You have such a gift for expression any your accompanying thoughts were enjoyable to read, complimenting your photos so perfectly! As a matter of fact, I am going to go back and read it again! I especially liked the mushroom picture. It's a beauty. Enjoy the snow. ~karen

Monika said...

I love the photo of the snow on the mushrooms!

Joy K said...

Your pictures are all lovely, but the 2nd-to-last one is simply stunning. The blue tone is almost eerie.

Andy said...

Wonderful photos!

Heather said...

Gabrielle - Thank you. We lost one redbud for sure. It got bent one way last year, and got bent the other way this year. A little too much for it.

Beyond the Garden - Yes, I imagine our weather patterns have been quite similar of late given our proximity to each other. Thanks for the visit!

Priscilla - Yes, the birds do seem ever-adaptable. Yet another thing to admire them for.

Ginny - I don't know much about mushrooms, but I've seen quite a few of them this winter. With all the moisture from the snow, the environment seems hospitable for them, I think.

Carol - Thank you so much.

Karen - Thanks for revealing your alternate identity! Glad you enjoyed the post. I really appreciate your support.

Monika - Thanks! I had a lot of fun taking that photo (had to practically lay on my back next to the tree to capture it).

Joy - Thank you for the visit and the nice comments. I altered the 2nd-to-last image a little to bring out the blue.

Andy - Thank you!

NW Nature Nut said...

Love all the pretty photos. Snow. Hard to imagine. Things sure are different here. 60 degrees and sunny yesterday and today. Flowering plums and daffodils are starting to pop!

Heather said...

Michele - Wow, what different weather we have from each other!! I don't expect to see 60 degrees for several more weeks, and as for the daffodils... April, maybe? Nah, probably late March. Enjoy it!