Sunday, January 21, 2007

A January Commonwealth

It's a commonwealth of deep snow, blinding sunlight and glacial cold. In late January, the northern landscape is crisp and clear and diamond etched. The sun pours itself out on the crystalline snow, and the snow tosses the sunlight right back into the hyperboreal air with insouciance and casual abandon. Highland trees are whiskery and as black as a winter's night, attenuated and festooned with icicles — their stark trunks appearing out of the snow like medieval crooks, quarterstaffs, pikes and lances. Shadows demarcating the woodland trails are downreaching and indigo stained — boundaries as sharp edged and cutting as a perfectly honed product of the bladesmith's art.

The wind howls across the rocks and through the trees. Millions of snow crystals swirl and glitter aloft and catch fire in the sunlight. Caught between the intensity of the morning sun and flashing snow, the wanderer's eyes are intoxicated and dazzled, and she cannot see the trail ahead.

Going into the spruce scented woods yesterday with loads of grain and apples for the deer and suet and sunflower seed for the birds, we trundled our way through several hundred yards of dancing sunlight and snow past our knees, finding the deer feeding stations and bird feeders sorely depleted when we finally arrived, and our resident bird congregation eagerly waiting to be fed. It was much too cold for taking photos yesterday, and I abandoned the exercise after only a few clicks when my fingers began to turn blue and tingle painfully. The chickadees were nowhere to be seen, but I could hear them chattering happily among the cedars, and the solitary nuthatch and tree sparrow who visited us while we were topping up their larder were truly grateful for their morning meal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Posts like these warm my heart. I love the fact that you go out and replenish feeding stations like that.