Cloudy, 28 Degrees, Light North Wind
If you have read more than one or two of my posts you will have seen that I begin each one with a description of the weather and the feel of the day as I go on my walk. That was a conscious choice early on but only with the passage of time do I realize why I made that choice. This is a chronicle of the passing of a year, the change of the weather and seasons as much as it is a photography journal or a dog walking journal (if there is such a thing).
I think this idea of journaling the passage of the seasons goes back to something my mother used to do when we first moved to the country here from the city of Detroit. For the first time in a long time we were surrounded by nature and the passage of the seasons and the animals around us became important to us. She used to keep a calendar each year in which she made notes of major events. The return of the geese after the winter, the melting of the ice on the pond, the blooming of various flowers in the spring, etc.
She didn’t do it every day. She just noted things as they struck her. And she kept the calendars from year to year so we could look back to see if the snow melted early this year, or the road was muddy or the wild asparagus was coming up along the road.
Although I didn’t participate in that recording, it must have made an impression on me. I think this much more exhaustive calendar is an unconscious homage to my mother and to that time. I’ve already mentioned the similarity of the woods I walk in now to the woods around our house back then. It also happens that I walk past the junior high school that I attended then on my way to the woods each morning. There are all kinds of echoes of my past here.
I was 14, maybe 15 years old then. Now I am 62 and will be 63 before this year passes. That’s a long time and I am back here where I was a young man, still moved by the same things that were central to me then. So this becomes a chronicle and a remembrance at the same time.
But back to today. Today was a gray and chilly day. Everything is absolutely washed out and gray. The grass and leaves are matted down and washed out from a winter of snow. There is no new growth yet, though it will start soon. There are hints of the migratory birds returning. I heard Sand Hill Cranes calling from high in the sky yesterday. They will be nesting here soon but for now the lakes and marshes are frozen with ice. There is a fair amount of bird call when I leave the house in the morning, but it’s almost completely silent in the woods themselves. The birds hang around the neighborhoods where people put out food for them.
I haven’t seen the first Robin yet. It’s a traditional harbinger of spring here. They actually arrive very early in the spring, eager to get a start on nest building and raising chicks. I’ve seen flocks of robins sitting in a tree when there was eight inches of snow on the ground. This time of year is so highly variable, it’s always risky to arrive early.
I first heard, and then saw two swans flying overhead this morning. I think some swans may winter over here, as the geese have begun doing of late, but they might be migratory birds. I took a few pictures very quickly. I’ll see if I caught anything. Their wings make a distinctive whistling sound that I love and that was what tipped me off to them. It’s really cool to see them fly. They’re big, heavy birds. It’s like seeing a B52 cruising, powerful and fast.
The woods themselves were as gray and flat as everything else. All of the color and darkness that yesterday’s rain brought out were gone. The tree trunks were what caught my eye today. Maybe it was something about the light. I’m not sure. I don’t know if the pictures will work because there was so little color. I actually shot a tree trunk that I know was deep orange yesterday. Today it was absolutely flat gray.
I thought I’d touch on the guitar again today for a moment. I’ve written about my struggle to keep playing while I am doing all this photography and writing. Over the last week or so, I’ve been slowly trying to work my way back to playing. I’ve just been playing the music that I like, playing very slowly, enjoying the beauty of the melody and harmony.
I’ve avoided “practicing” too much. I’m just trying to enjoy myself and it’s working at least a little. I’ve been enjoying playing even if I’m not completely engrossed in it as I have been for the last several months. I’m going to try to learn some new music that I really like and hope that pulls me further into playing again.
I also dropped writing about photography technique, which was taking extra time and I felt was distracting from my real goal of chronicling this year of walking in the woods and taking pictures. I think that was a good idea and I haven’t missed doing it at all.