Structure visible

Structure visible

“January and February are my favorite months.  I like the bare branches of trees, structure become visible, and the subtle colors, all sorts of varieties of browns and grays that are seen only at this time of year, brought into focus by the pellucid light that is as close an analogy as I know to the silence out of which my work emerges.”
— Anne Truitt, Prospect: The Journal of an Artist

Here are some of the beautiful grays and browns in my Seattle landscape this February:

Chinese red birch bark

Chinese red birch bark

Fern

Fern

Foggy February morning at Green Lake

Foggy February morning at Green Lake

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Green Lake in winter

Green Lake in winter

 

 

Still Pouring, Only Worse

January 21, 2016

“Still pouring, only worse.  Poor world, she looks so desolate and depressed, as if she did not know what to do with all the wet.  The earth won’t hold anymore.  The sea is full and the low clouds are too heavy to hold up.  The sky leaks, earth oozes, so the wetness sits in the air between and grumbles into your breath and bones . . . ”
— Emily Carr, from Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of an Artist

“Everything broods today, the sky low and heavy.  Was there ever a sun?”
— Emily Carr, from Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of an Artist

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Winter wetness

Puddles at Green Lake

Puddles at Green Lake

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Rain-soaked path

January, the Hardest Month

January 13, 2016

Foggy winter morning at Green Lake

Foggy winter morning at Green Lake

“Is not January the hardest month to get through?  When you have weathered that, you get into the gulf stream of winter, nearer the shore of spring.”
—  Henry David Thoreau, from Winter:  The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, February 2, 1854

 

Nature’s Remedy

January 10, 2015

View through a frosty windshield

View through a frosty windshield

“When it is wintertime in your life, you are going through pain, difficulty, or turbulence.  At such times it is wise to follow the instinct of nature and withdraw into yourself.  When it is winter in your soul, it is unwise to pursue any new endeavors.  You have to lie low and shelter until this bleak, emptying time passes on.  This is nature’s remedy.  It minds itself in hibernation.  When there is great pain in your life, you, too, need sanctuary in the shelter of your own soul.”
— John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

This has been a winter of hibernation for me.  My interior landscape seems to mirror the gray monochromatic winter outside.  I don’t mind withdrawing, pulling back, letting go of ambitions while I re-group and lie fallow.  I just wish I were a more skilled thinker.  My thoughts seem to scatter all over the place.  I wonder if I ever have anything original to say.  My habit of copying quotes from my reading — words and phrases that resonate with me — makes it so easy to defer to other people’s voices.  They seem much more skilled at saying what I mean than I do!

Here’s a scary thought:  what would happen if I stopped reading books, even for a month or a year.  Would I start hearing my own voice more clearly?  (I can tell how addicted I am to reading by how absolutely reluctant I am to act on this idea!!)  Do I need to reclaim my own life?

 

 

 

“In winter when there are no flowers, and leaves are rare, even larger buds are interesting and somewhat exciting. I go a budding like a partridge.”
— Henry David Thoreau, from Winter: The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, January 31, 1854

Azalea buds, Arboretum

Azalea buds, Arboretum

Many trees and bushes are actively budding right now.  I saw these azalea buds along the Azalea Way path at the arboretum.

Azalea buds

Azalea buds

And the magnolias are simply profligate with their showy, soft-as-mouse-fur, perky, candle-flame buds.

Magnolia buds

Magnolia buds

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Watercolor sketches of magnolia buds

Watercolor sketches of magnolia buds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Branches Big with Snow

February 10, 2014

Snow-coated branches, Green Lake park, Seattle

Snow-coated branches, Green Lake park, Seattle

“Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.”
—  Thomas Hardy, from “Snow in the Suburbs”

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“Winter is . . . the white page on which we write our hearts.”
Adam Gopnik, Winter: Five Windows on the Season

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Eisblumen:  German for hoarfrost ice flowers

“On a lonely winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence.”
— John Keats

Adam Gopnik sees the poetry in winter.  His book, Winter: Five Windows on the Season, explores “why winter, a season long seen as a sign of nature’s withdrawal from grace, has become for us a time of human warmth.”  He talks about the sublime side of winter, how it inspires fear, awe and mystery while remaining potentially lethal.  Gopnik says that a love of winter is a modern sensibility, evolving only after the use of cheap and abundant coal and central heating.

“Winter’s persona changes with our perception of safety from it — the glass of the window . . . is the lens through which modern winter is always seen.  The romance of winter is possible only when we have a warm, secure indoors to retreat to, and winter becomes a season to look at as much as one to live through.”

Winter’s Gems

December 31, 2013

“We are rained and snowed on with gems.”
— Henry David Thoreau, from Winter:  The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, January 6, 1858

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The Fat of My Experiences

December 30, 2013

Winter in the garden: decaying leaves hanging like a row of furry bats

Winter in the garden: decaying leaves hanging like a row of furry bats

“If the writer would interest readers, he must report so much life, using a certain satisfaction always as a point d’appui.  However mean and limited, it must be a genuine and contented life that he speaks out of.  His readers must have the essence or oil of himself, tried out of the fat of his experience and joy.”
— Henry David Thoreau, from Winter: The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 8, December 23, 1856

More advice to ponder from the seasoned writer and thinker, Henry David Thoreau.

 

 

Short Winter Days

December 14, 2013

Winter's hydrangeas

Winter’s hydrangeas

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.”
— John Burroughs, from The Writings of John Burroughs, vol. 15, The Summit of the Years

Night falls early.  Like Burroughs, I find the days much too short for everything I want to do.  Unfortunately, picking up a paintbrush has fallen to the wayside.  One day soon I will get back to making paintings.  For now, I am enjoying reading and incubating some thoughts.

I did rouse myself to walk to a neighborhood coffeeshop, though, and took these photos along the way:

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