What an unexpected gift they can be, these bitterly cold and diamond bright days when sunlight shines through clouds and lights on the snow blowing across these hills and through the whiskery trees on the ridge.
There I was yesterday, standing in a field below the big hill and trying to see the north wind with my own two eyes, trying to capture it with my camera and commit it to memory so that I might paint it some day soon. One cannot actually see the wind of course, but rather the swirling choreography and elemental movements of its pas de deux with the season. Now and then I caught a glimpse, and it was grand and humbling, all at the same time.
Never mind that my hood was pulled up all the way, that I was wrapped up in every warm garment I possessed to hold the deep cold at bay and keep out the very same wind I was trying to grasp with my lens. I looked for all the world like a yeti or an inukshuk standing out there among the shifting clouds of blowing snow and ice crystals.
I stood there whispering descriptive words like a mantra, and somehow or other, they conferred a sense of comfort and balance on an icy day in January - winter, sunshine, hills and sleeping trees, frost, ice and blowing snow.
The merest suggestion of light on a winter morning is a fine thing, and if I stand out here long enough, perhaps I will be able to embrace the poignant stillness that the fine American poet Wallace Stevens called "the mind of snow". I have, however, a very long way to go. The mind may have longed for a moment of snowy kensho yesterday, but it also craved firelight and warmth and a large mug of Darjeeling tea.