Monday, March 25, 2013


The zen master and I opened the front door this morning and discovered that our little corner of world was under a pleasing blanket of fine white powder, notwithstanding the old adage that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  Actually, I'm quite fond of snow, provided it does its handiwork quickly and then moves on to other venues.  As the environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy has observed, "snow provokes responses that reach back to childhood."  I also love the way that snow dissolves color and forces the eye to appreciate natural shapes and forms that might have otherwise been overlooked.  Finally, I love the silence that comes with snowfall — silence that stills the heart and allows it to listen to different things.

My small offering today is a few photos taken early this morning around my yard and neighborhood, plus a lovely poem by Miguel de Unamuno (translated by Robert Bly).  

                                        THE SNOWFALL IS SO SILENT
                                                  By Miguel de Unamuno
                                                  translated by Robert Bly

                                             The snowfall is so silent,
                                             so slow,
                                             bit by bit, with delicacy
                                             it settles down on the earth
                                             and covers over the fields.

                                             The silent snow comes down
                                             white and weightless;
                                             snowfall makes no noise,
                                             falls as forgetting falls,
                                             flake after flake.

                                             It covers the fields gently
                                             while frost attacks them
                                             with its sudden flashes of white;
                                             covers everything with its pure
                                             and silent covering;
                                             not one thing on the ground
                                             anywhere escapes it.

                                             And wherever it falls it stays,
                                             content and gay,
                                             for snow does not slip off as rain does
                                             but it stays and sinks in.

                                             The flakes are skyflowers,
                                             pale lilies from the clouds,
                                             that wither on earth. 
                                             They come down blossoming
                                             but then so quickly
                                             they are gone;
                                             they bloom only on the peak,
                                             above the mountains,
                                             and make the earth feel heavier
                                             when they die inside.

                                             Snow, delicate snow,
                                             that falls with such lightness
                                             on the head,
                                             on the feelings,
                                             come and cover over the sadness
                                             that lies always in my reason.


  1. These are wonderful photos. I complain a bit from time to time, but I do love what snow offers. The photos of your zen master in the snow are great, as is that enticing road, but it's the fourth photo down, with bits of rust colored leaves that is still with me, reminds me of the work of photographer Eliot Porter.

    1. Thanks so much, Teresa, for your lovely comments. Glad you liked the photos and I'm flattered that one of them reminds you of Eliot Porter's work. I know his work well and admire it greatly!

  2. Well! One of my favorite subjects on today's post, George - 2 actually, Derry AND snow! The trees in snow are just magnificent. It has snowed in Breckenridge for a week straight, and today bright sunshine. A gift! Enjoy it while it lasts, George. I love the photos.

    1. Thanks, Barb. Nothing is more thrilling than seeing Derry greet the morning after a snowfall during the night. She seems both stunned and excited at the magical changes that have taken place, and she runs throughout the snow in figure eight patterns until she is completely exhausted. She gets it — the sheer thrill of waking to a transformed landscape.

  3. A lovely post; beautiful poem - perfect for our snowy day.

    1. Thanks so much, Maureen. I also felt the poem captured the silent beauty of this snowy morning in my part of the woods.

  4. Your environs are very beautiful, George, with or without snow (I am guessing). Your photos are lovely, and I especially love the one with the road. When snow covers every twig like this, going and looking anywhere is magical. How gorgeous the poem is, with its skyflowers (yes!) and silence. And I very much relate to the last three lines.

    1. Thanks, Ruth. It was also those last lines of the poem that hit me in the heart, "the sadness that lies always in my reason." Now on to spring, which always lifts the veil of sadness.

  5. A really beautiful marriage of picture and poem, George. Your environs look quite lovely under the snow.

    1. Thanks, Robert. I'm inclined to think that all environs are lovelier when doused by a fine dusting of snow.

  6. George, your photographs are beautiful and otherworldly... I'll save my thoughts on snow....
    except, you know what they say about too much of a good thing. haha.

    1. Thanks so much, Gwen. Yes, May West once said that "too much of a good thing can be wonderful," but I think it would be a stretch to apply that conclusion to snow.

  7. It looks much the same here. The magnificent uniformity of snow.

    I was watching Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles (the tv adaptation) this morning on dvd. I was struck by this speech, by a Martian, when asked about the 'secret' of his way of life on Mars: "Secret …. There is no secret. Anyone with eyes can see the way to live …. By watching life, observing nature, and cooperating with it. Making common cause with the process of existence …. By living life for itself, don't you see? Deriving pleasure from the gift of pure being .… Life is its own answer. Accept it and enjoy it day by day. Live as well as possible. Expect no more. Destroy nothing, humble nothing, look for fault in nothing. Leave unsullied and untouched all that is beautiful. Hold that which lives in all reverence. For life is given by the sovereign of our universe; given to be savored, to be luxuriated in, to be respected. But that's no secret. You're intelligent. You know as well as I what has to be done."

  8. Wow, Dominic! That's a terrific quote from Ray Bradbury's Martian. It's true, isn't it? We learn what we need to do in life by simply "watching life, observing nature, and cooperating with it. Making common cause with the process of existence . . . " My only quibble is with the Martian's assumption that most people are intelligent enough to know what needs to be done. How many people do you know who derive pleasure "from the gift of pure being," who "accept it and enjoy it day by day," who "expect no more," who "look for fault in nothing"? I know very few of that variety, but I aspire to Bradbury's ideals nonetheless.

  9. Perfect post! I too appreciate the temporary absence of color, it feels very different from a black and white photo but I would be interested to see a side by side comparison.

    1. Thanks, Jill. All of these photos were taken in color, but, to my eye, at least four of them are indistinguishable from black and white. I'm passionate about vivid color, but I also love the way that black and white photos, as well as other monotones, allow us to appreciate shapes, forms, and composition.

  10. Though we've had our share of snow this year, though we're still below freezing and mostly kind of tired of snow, when I look at these pictures, I still love it.

  11. Thanks, Wendy. Frankly, I'm ready for spring!

  12. Such lovely photos and a beautiful poem. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Linda. Lovely of you to stop by. This was our last snow, and, spring is now breaking out all over in my little corner of the world.