Monday, December 02, 2019

Winter hues are so unlike their bright summer counterparts you’d hardly think they originated from the same colors. A winter sky looks cold. It’s ice blue in the early morning, cobalt in the afternoon. Even on sunny days there’s a hint of frostiness. And there is no color quite like New England grey—a sullen shade that portends snow, or worse, a dreary fall of freezing rain.

Winter woods are hauntingly beautiful. Trees whose shapes and patterns go unnoticed under a canopy of summer leaves stand revealed, every lofty limb, every bend of branch and configuration of twigs inked in relief on a canvas sky. Bark—rough and craggy or smooth as skin—is every shade of brown there is. When a pale January sun reaches out and touches bark and branch, the trees look as if they are lit from within. And snow, far from pure white, flaunts rainbow colors when struck by direct sunlight. Late in the day it harbors deep purple shadows; on moonlit evenings it turns to pure silver. Snow brings a discernible depth to other winter colors.

We tend to think of winter as a bleak and desolate season, a time when color recedes and fades into nothingness. A painter would tell us differently. No winter landscape is rendered in pure white. Always there is an underlying wash of blue or brown or yellowy-orange. Our eyes, blinded by fall’s fiery display, seek brilliance and in so doing, overlook the perfection of subtlety, of austerity, of less.
 If you look closely, you can see hints of spring shades to come. They are visible in the pale green-gold of the tightly folded lilac bud, in the wine-red withes of the swamp osier, or in the grape-colored stalks of blackberry canes. Winter is not a season of death so much as one of rest, a time to withdraw and be quiet, to renew ones' self in anticipation of summer's vibrancy.