Monday, January 12, 2009

Breaking through the crust

Sunday Afternoon. Oil on canvas, 6x6

Sunday morning, I can tell it's cold just by looking out the window. The dogs make no effort to move, even though it's long past their usual wake-up time. They must have some sort of internal sensor that lets them know when the weather is unforgiving.

When we finally do go out, it's worse than it looks. What appears to be new, soft snow crunches underfoot. A half-inch of sleet has fallen, and so, with each step, you break through. Even the smallest dog breaks through.

This crust transports me to my youth, to skiing in Vermont with my dad. He and I would go out when all the sane people stayed in. Rain, sleet, ice, crust, it didn't matter. Whatever it was, we would try it, because it would make us better skiers. And it did.

The first time we went skiing out West, I remember seeing a couple of crossed slalom poles marking a hazard. I went over to check it out. It was a patch of ice about the size of a dinner plate. Westerners would have closed down entire mountains, if this was their measure of ski-ability.

Sunday afternoon, Peter and I drive to Harkness. He sets off, camera in hand, to the ice-covered gardens. I try to set up by the car, but it's too windy. I end up painting two pieces, more or less sitting in the car. One of them, I like, and will post later this week.

Hours later, we pull into the driveway and we're still cold, still numb, but the setting sun lights the path through the grove, turns the snow blue and gold, and stretches shadows out over that awful crust. It grows more beautiful by the minute, until, at last, the light goes.

Thanks for reading!

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Remember, art makes a great gift. And no calories!

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