Sunday, February 15, 2009


I’ve been thinking about what’s underneath. Mid-February in Oswego generally means that everything is covered with snow or, in the case of the lake, submerged beneath ice. This year has been no exception, but we’ve had a grace period for the last few days that can’t be called a thaw, quite, but offered up enough sunshine to melt most of the snow off the roof. (Okay, there’s still about 8 inches of ice capped with another 8 or more of snow up there, but that’s better than the three to four feet we had.) The driveway’s reasonably passable, and there are patches of ice all over the yard, places where it’s easy to see what’s below. Mostly rocks and grass, but in spots the ice covers puddles, and the bubbles in the water, moving slowly, make patterns that catch the light. The yard’s boundaries are marked with rock walls, and those rocks retain enough heat that they melt through. Here and there plants have found their way up – shrubs shrug off the weight of snow, hydrangea branches, bare now, poke like asparagus up from the drifts. It’s almost like the snow is the earth’s winter skin, and I can wander about the yard seeing what’s hidden beneath that skin. Almost like peeling back to muscle, and then to bone, and then to the pulsing heart. The yard’s a casual mess, but when studied through the lens – I roam around with my camera when the sun’s out – it begins to appear composed, designed, almost neat. Maybe it’s just my tendency to impose order… I don’t know. The patterns in the branches settle me; the graceful sprawl of ivy, green as emeralds; the bubbles beneath the ice… I’m dreaming of spring, but already suspecting that I’ll mourn the loss of winter.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoy this piece of writing. This is, at once, an observation on how winter seems to veil the earth and lock in all of its beauty. This is, in itself, a beautiful image. It is as if the transparency of the ice is carefully preserving what lies underneath. It is exposed for ones much needed view of something in juxtaposition of snow. The way you chose to describe the snow as “earths winter skin” is absolutely beautiful and, in many ways, true through the lens of a person who revels in the mysteriousness and beauty of nature as you seem to. Skin protects against harm; covers up the fragility of those things that lie underneath it. The image of skin being peeled back to expose is interesting because we know that in the doing so that too becomes fragile. It undoes what we once understood to be true about something. Using snow as skin forces the reader to reconsider their previous notions of strength and weakness. This is to say that although snow is temporary and fleeting in this piece it becomes stable and grounded (no, that was not supposed to sound like a pun…LOL). This helps remind us that all types of “skin” have weakness like scars and bruised fruit. Also, in this piece you speak to the notions of mourning something before its passing. This is beautiful because it is as if you are expecting an eventual sadness for the passing of winter. The skin will be completely peeled back but its evidence will be puddles in your driveway. Look into the water of the melted snow and see your own reflection; notice your skin that, although bruised or scared, will never be able to wash away.