Last night was bright and cheerful, and we celebrated a friend’s birthday and the arrival of spring with a lovely dinner. The sun shone in through the kitchen window, glowing like gold in this glass of champagne.
Now, I don’t cook. I know, weird for a teacher of home economics and a PhD in food and nutrition. But when you’re married to a kitchen genius you learn to sit down and shut up while the magic happens. Or photograph it!
While hubby was cooking, the sun slowly set over the hills outside. Right now it dips below the horizon at 9 pm, but every day it stays up a little bit longer – like a child with really good nagging power. In two months’ time, it will hardly set at all.
As a treat, here’s a video of the entrée we had. It’s an old favourite of ours that really signals spring and warm days ahead. You don’t really need the scallops – we just threw them in on a whim.
Tonight the sky was the colour of pain. Plum purple blood stain on silk.
The sun a coppery-gold penny admiring its own reflection in the lake.
These thin straws, ducking beneath the surface, as if closing a circuit. The tiny glint of surface tension around them so sharp against the distant clouds.
There’s a saying here, “It’s only the sun that gives any warmth”, and it captures perfectly the insidiousness of spring. The light has returned, but as soon as you’re not in direct sunlight, it’s really cold.
You can be fooled into wearing a too-thin jacket, or leaving your hat at home. The saying exists, I think, to remind us that the sun is still weak, and even though it makes our evenings brighter, it does nothing for the chill of the purpling shadows as twilight falls.
I should have worn thicker mittens on my walk, but the cold light was worth freezing a little for. There were none of the coppery shades tonight, but these soft, wispy pinks and lilacs that gave everything an aura of calm.
There is something otherwordly about these spring evenings. The sun is never as coppery as in April and May, before the gentle colours of summer have taken over.
It’s as if the world is both dying and waking up at the same time.
When nature is mostly grey and brown and nothing seems worth looking at, the setting sun gilds the scene and makes it magical. To compensate, perhaps? You just have to be patient and wait for the drab day to be over, and suddenly there’s your reward: the dusty, muddy nothingness of an April day in the north turns to a golden spectacle.
If you’re looking for interesting ice shapes, your best bet seems to be wild waters in spring.
The spray coats stones and branches and freezes to form fantastical shapes that hang immobile over the rushing stream.
They’re like a snapshot in time, a sharp contrast to the giddy swirls that surround them. Crouching, like this one, just waiting to melt.
Or this one, that hangs like a tired caterpillar over a twig. 😀
The ice drops hang fearless over the abyss, staunch in the onslaught of water.
The din is deafening. The movement never stops. It’s the same molecules in the frozen pillars and icicles, maelstroms and bubbles, just in different states.
The dancing froth catches the odd ray of sun, almost too quickly to capture.
And the river flows on even though the water is no longer the same.
I found this perfect tree with long, long branches that hung like flouncy skirts over the ground. They seemed to reach out and gather you up in a gentle embrace. The sun filtered through the needles and the earth was packed and dry beneath it – perfect for rolling up and almost falling asleep.
Later, when twilight sank over the cabin, it was time for another kind of tree warmth…
Today was mostly cloudy and wet, but the animal kingdom apparently loves this kind of weather. Everywhere I looked there were birds. Some of them are just now returning for summer from warmer climes, like these two crane couples.
Others, like these geese, just take the opportunity to float on the water and enjoy the odd ray of sun that makes it through the blanket of the clouds.
These swans kindly arranged themselves to look as symmetrical as possible with the patches of snow in the background, and then smack dab in the middle of the lines left by the autumn’s harvest.
And these are… dancing?
To add some atmosphere, I filmed them as well. Just listen to those eerie crane cries that echo over the landscape!
From a distance the world is grey and brown right now, but move closer and a shiny spectacle takes centre stage.
Because most of nature is still dead at this time of year, it’s better to see individuals than a crowd. Like this withered lingonberry that no one picked last autumn. With the sun filtering through it, the leathery skin glows as if alive again.
Or these perfect catkins.
These delicate stems form a tiny forest against the background of an actual forest of pine trees and firs.
Sometimes it feels like cheating to take these close-ups, because everything becomes so much more beautiful. This isn’t what we normally see when we take a walk in the woods, after all.
But maybe we should. Maybe we don’t need a camera to get down on our knees and view the world through the shining prism of a melting ice crystal, hanging like a chandelier from last year’s grass.
On the other hand, a simple dried leaf that dangles from a twig in the sun can be quite as lovely, and we don’t even have to make an effort to see it.
It’s all about perspective. About where the light comes from.
So the moral is, I suppose, not to see ‘the bright side of life’ exactly, but to put yourself in the right position in relation to the light.
I’ve just realised that I’ve never really noticed the turn of the seasons. Sure, I see the big things – everyone does – but I’m not talking about snow melting or buds bursting. I mean the more subtle stuff, like what the clouds look like.
I bought my camera last April and started photographing a lot of sunsets, but as time went on I shifted to other things. Now that spring has arrived again, I sort of understand why. As I look out of the window in the evenings, there it is again: the dramatic sky I remember from last spring.
This time of year also has a specific palette. When the sun sets the clouds turn golden, and then a coppery-salmony red that’s unique to spring. I would never have known if not for my camera. I even have evidence from last year on this very blog.
Hubby seldom takes walks just for the sake of it, but spring gets to him too. So tonight we went for a stroll through the village, just to smell the wet mud and last year’s grass, and to see the last rays from a sun that will grow ever stronger as the Earth turns.
I’m so grateful to have found a way to experience the more subtle signs of the turning seasons – the small things that you don’t see unless you make a project of it. It makes me think there are probably a lot of other beautiful things that we fail to notice just because we don’t have a reason to really look.