Shades of Light
I awoke in the pre-dawn darkness and dressed for a morning of wood splitting: Carhartt’s, red plaid Pendleton wool shirt, undershirt tucked in, webbing belt strapped for practicality, hiking boots. Of course, there would be two hours of writing first, and I began promptly.
But as the navy blue morning gave way to sunlight, white-topped foothills and snow-coated tree bark revealed an overnight dusting of at least two inches. I changed into my sweats and returned to the desk with determination.
A famous writer once said, “The hardest thing about writing is sitting in the chair for four hours.” I like to think that what he was really getting at is not the sitting part, but the actually-doing-it-no-ifs-ands-or-buts-about-it writing part (which happens to require sitting, for most people). I have also found this to be true, but I had procrastinated enough and today I wrote, and wrote, and wrote my way to 5,000 new words and the completion of the first third of the first draft of the grant project.
Having peeked at the sky all morning and afternoon long, watching the snow melt and the robins return, I was aching for a walk by the time my work was finished. Anne and I agreed to meet on the Grassy Path before yoga for a nice stroll in the woods. The Grassy Path is a miraculously smooth, predictable trail through the middle of rhododendron thicket. There is no logical explanation for its occurrence, but frequent use by community members keeps it clear and over time, it has become one of my favorite running routes.
We walked and shared our news while the sun set, Anne’s eyes growing soft and wide as we faced the mountain view in a clearing. She is my Mary Oliver, always exploring nature, always digging deeper, always finding inspiration from natural wonders. Whereas I might walk by a recently hatched daffodil, yellow lips just beginning to smile, Anne will notice it and shout in her kid-time bird-song voice, “Oh! Oh, come look!”
Which is precisely what she says when we look at those mountains, ever-present over us, always changing, groaning with the seasons like an old man reluctantly shifting his back. I turn my head to see the view and yes, it is what I suspected. There is a particular affect on the air and on the eyes when snow accumulates and then melts quickly in a short period of time. Most of the white on the mountains was gone, but they were warmly wrapped in the ghost-mist of the snow, which had been melting and evaporating off the faces of each peak all afternoon. The result is a mountain range that looks dreamy and distant, even when standing at the base of it.
Sunset was electric, like an Ansel Adams in shades of blue instead of gray.