Sunlight diffused by a the thin fog sifts through the trees. It was surprisingly chilly, yet even the winter sun can warm the ground and raise a mist to meet with the fog.
The colours are muted and soft along the Heritage Forest Road, and the ground is rock hard, frozen solid. It may look like there’s little life in the landscape, that it everything is ‘dead’. Dull. How far from the truth!
As we walked the road what struck me was how many signals there were that even in the quiet stillness of winter, and its apparent barrenness, there is a pulsing vitality to the season: the creeks burble beneath a skim of ice, lichens hang conspicuously from limbs all round, colourful slime molds are ‘there’ for the observant eye as are various fascinating fungi; winter birds— wrens, sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees and towhees flit amongst the low shrubs while the finches and others occupy the higher branches; the deer meander and graze undisturbed. Surely the forest pulses with life as much in winter as any season.
I wonder if maybe the forest and its creatures enjoy the relative quiet. Maybe its their ‘sabbath’.
The days begin with a walk to Flagpole Point before breakfast.
In part it is a necessity, to walk the dog, but equally important is that this outing provides me a chance to appreciate the uniqueness of each morning. Though it is the same place, the variation is infinite: light, colour and texture in differing combinations.
The rising sun’s position is constantly shifting with the seasons, tides varying with moon-phase, wind and weather, clouds, fog, rain, or clear… Add to this, the cast of birds and small animals. I never know just what the morning jaunt will offer: kingfishers, herons, otters, harlequins, eagles, mink, seals…
It has long been my habit to record these first glimpses of the day there with a few photos, usually just on my iPhone, but sometimes with my ‘big’ camera. Recently it occurred to me to share some of my morning glimpses with others, so I created a Flickr Album Mornings at Flagpole Point which you can view here.
My aim is to post one a day. Sometimes, like yesterday when we had a power outage I couldn’t post. There are bound to be other missed days here and there, but mostly it’ll be a daily photo.
Thanks so much for enjoying these glimpses of the world with me.
During my school days, our Headmistress would often urge us to notice what’s around us saying, ‘Even the thorn bush by the wayside is ablaze with the glory of God.’ I’ve come to appreciate over the years that she was absolutely right.
Today I was reminded of this as I saw, not a ‘thorn bush’ but an ordinary drainage ditch, ‘blazing’ with beauty: colour, texture and pattern.
I have intentionally adjusted the photo above with texture and colour as I contemplated the beauty on display. The red colours in the weeds to the right were actually there, and brighter. I’ve muted them so as not to ‘take over’ the image as a whole. It’s the raindrop circles that particularly entranced me— the way they refracted and reflected the light.
When the sun came out after a morning of heavy rain, the light in the forest was dramatic. Intense and beautiful— light and shadow; texture and pattern; colours and hues.
The shape of the point is determined by both the underlying rock, the storms’ force and what the tides bring.
The road rises and curves away out of sight. Who knows what’s around the next corner… Meanwhile, right where we stand we’re surrounded by beauty—a beauty that’s both softened and strangely enhanced by the early spring mists. I stop to catch my breath, and admire the wonder of where I am before plugging on up the hill and to whatever awaits around the bend.
Finlay Lake Conservation Area – Click on image for a larger view
We’d wanted to walk in to Finlay Lake for a while, so with the sun shining brilliantly, it seemed a good day to set out for this quiet spot.
The path leading through the forest was bursting with spring shoots, and the birds were singing in the canopy above us, and the winter wrens and towhees rustling in the ferns and salal.
When the path opened to the lake there were a few Buffleheads on the far side, but otherwise all was still. Occasionally a raven’s call echoed through the trees, and an eagle flew past. Otherwise, simply stillness— but a stillness that is burgeoning with life.
The wide open canvas of the sky, and the extravagant swirl of cloud…
I stand here, small, waiting and in awe of what is given today even before I begin.
I’ve always loved the forest. As a child I loved to explore trails in the woods, to build forts, and to take a picnic to a mossy spot and sit in the quiet— sometimes with a friend. The forest has always been a place of wonder and mystery for me.
It remains so— and to me it is most deeply mysterious and wonder-full in the depths of winter when the soaking rain and the January mist and fog moves amidst the trees. The strong shapes are softened and the moss and lichens become almost luminous in the shortened daylight, as though they thrive in the winter, enjoying the relief from the droughts of August.
Some people have told me they find these short darker days with the low hanging cloud wearying. For me, along with the lichen-bearded cedars, soaking their roots in the sodden earth, and the moss that is practically jubilant in its lush growth, this is a happy time of year. It’s the season of rest and replenishment.
I’ll be ready when the exuberance of spring comes, and I’ll be ready to dry out in the summer. But for now, it’s winter, and it is very good.