What You Will Not Find Here

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 1 Outdoors

Tuesday, January 3, 8:15-9:15 a.m.

It was daybreak without sunrise, overcast. The fierce, brutal winds that blasted through the first two days of the year had largely abated, but the air was very cold. At the tree line, on the edge of the field above the stream, only a gentle breeze moved. Most of the time it seemed to come from the north, but at times it would pulse gently, as if the atmosphere were breathing, and then it would shift and gust.

The snowflakes fell lazily, sometimes sparsely, sometimes more thickly, until a breezy gust blew them horizontal. Then they looked more like asteroids streaming through space than water crystals. Overhead, against a light grey sky, they looked dark, like bits of airborne litter or ash. Once for a few minutes the clouds parted to let a bit of blue sky through, but then they closed again. Shifts in wind and changes in light were all small, undramatic, scarcely noticeable. 

Except for the slow, slight swaying of the tallest popple trees, the only living things stirring were black-capped chickadees. At first there were half a dozen of them, flitting and chipping, up in the highest branches, searching for food. After a while, there were none, and no other birds took their place.

Once in a while a heavy load of snow on a slender branch exploded in a tiny, noiseless puff and tumbled to the ground.

Leaves of grasses curled against the white ground like Arabic writing. Each dried umbel of Queen-Anne’s-lace held a small mound of snow within its curved ribs, and no two of these intricate snow-catchers were the same.

Our little nameless stream was hidden beneath the snow. No sound of the stream’s trickling challenged the wind, but the low, deep, rumbling roar of Lake Michigan, its waters still tossing from two days of wind, never ceased.

Later, at 10 o’clock, the temperature for Northport was recorded at 14 degrees Fahrenheit.


Farshaw@FineOldBooks.com said...

Your description makes it easy to picture the scene. You are wonderfully observant of the small details -- like the image of "curved ribs" and "snow catcher."

I know you don't want to do it, but I sure wish you had your camera with you!

Gerry said...

This is going to be a very good idea.

P. J. Grath said...

I will continue to take the camera with me on walks with Sarah and post pictures from those walks on Books in Northport. For this, my "stillness project" (more fitting name that "outdoor adventure"), I am going to start taking binoculars along and am still planning to do some sketching as weather permits.

Thank you both for your encouragement!

Heidi said...

I will enjoy following your "stillness", Pamela! Huge hugs and much love to you and David this New Year!

P. J. Grath said...

Love to you as well, Heidi. I hope we find time to spend together in 2012.

Dawn said...

The tiny puff of snow exploding caught my attention. Lovely.

P. J. Grath said...

Ir's the kind of thing you notice when sitting still, watching and waiting and listening for something to happen.