I don’t know if I can properly explain to you why I needed to be out in the woods on this dark, cold, and rainy day. If you are an outdoor person, I won’t need to explain, but if you are, say, the kind of person who would rather vacation in a four star hotel than a mountain cabin, then you might think I’m slightly crazy and so it’s probably best that I don’t really try.
As I drove home, I saw the color of the sky and the beginnings of color blushing the trees and bushes and I wanted to capture it, somehow – the dark of the wet branches against the gray sky, the swish of newly minted green against the backdrop of browns, the tiny yellows of the leaves of the forsythia bushes and the weeping willows, the reds of the vines, that sense of quiet and hush of the held breath before everything explodes into color. This morning I pointed out that green blush to my youngest son on the way to school, but he said he didn’t see it. I see it. Every year I look hard for it, a little bit afraid it won’t come because winter always feels too long. This winter has, at times, felt endless and dark and cold, and I needed proof today that spring is really here, proof that I can soon shed the layers of my winter gear even if I am still in this moment wearing my winter coat.
I drove to the place I always walk to from my house, Parker Meadow, and parked in the new lot the town recently made. I didn’t want to go home and put on appropriate shoes because I didn’t want anything to get in the way of this romp, not my warm apartment or the need for light bulbs or a kid wanting a ride. I had to go to the bathroom and it was cold and beginning to rain, and I guess being out in the rain and the cold and having to go to the bathroom doesn’t sound like much fun, but I can assure you that when the camera was in my hands and not slung over my shoulder, it was no longer about me or my comfort. I forgot my cold hands and didn’t notice the rain and the bladder thing became a background buzz I could ignore. All I wanted each time the camera came to my eye was to be the camera, to pull in the depth I saw with own eyes, to get down deep in it, the layers of shading and color and texture – the gazillion browns and shapes and twists in leaf mold, dry and wet and life giving, composting and reforming and transforming itself into new life, little bits of hopeful green poking through, growing up and through and on last year’s detritus.
It felt so good to have that camera in my hands again, out in the woods and not pointing it at people. I was out there because I don’t want to miss what’s happening, I don’t want what supports all the new life to be forgotten, all that tangled up sleepiness, dark drifts of branches and vines, brown grass hiding its secrets. It is the old that gives foundation to the new (and that is a whole other post). I wanted to roll on the ground, to become small enough to be under a leaf, nimble enough to climb branch-less trees and peek into nests, see what’s going on, how they’ve been upgraded this year from last year’s model, see if anyone has feathers of the dead duck that was composting by the pond a few years back late one August.
And I was out there to feed the well, to feed the fire and the artist’s muse, to fill up with images and texture and light and turn it into hope and wish and love, and to remind myself again that everything in the world that was once alive will die and be made new again, given the right conditions and enough time. And I know that I, too, will someday return to the earth (I want a green burial, please) and add my energy to the world’s.