Armchair Peregrinations

January 31, 2003

On the second to last day in January, yesterday, I took a nice, brisk walk in my neighborhood, in the afternoon, late. What a transformed world from the hard freeze deep winter landscape of just days ago! Not that it was that much different in appearance. It was everything else that was different. It was mild and cool, the sky was patchy blue with plenty of lovely clouds. Everywhere could be heard the sound of birds, as joyful and happy about this day spread out in such subtle splendor as I was. It was comforting to hear them. It was as if they knew that the corner had been turned on winter.

It is often like that here at the beginning of February. The days are longer, the air warmer. The soft and gentle breezes from the South are keeping us company more often and they affirm and remind me that Spring is coming.

January 23, 2003

The weather reports said we could have had snow flurries last night about 3 am and continuing into the morning. It has been frigid. It's cloudy. It rained earlier in the day. But I went to my window this morning to see the usual bare parking lot, a bit wet with new rain, but none of the magical white stuff that I long to see.

In the eight years I have lived here, I've seen no snow. No walking to the corner in the deep stillness that a snowfall provides. No transformed world. That's how you feel about snow when you never see it. Dirty, gray slush never enters your mind. You just see pure, brilliant white covering over everything, sparkling in the sunlight. In your imagination, that is.

January 20, 2003

The last two visits to the nature preserve have involved photographing reflections of gum and cypress trees in the swamp as I walked along the boardwalk trail. It is fascinating when the wind is still to observe the illusion of depth as these trees seem to reach far down into the water with their mirror images. I look back up at the bare trees that rise above the black, glassy water into blue winter skies. There is enough water throughout the swamp now to make it look like a real cypress swamp, and the winding trail takes me through the heart of it. There was no one around, as always. It is like my private preserve, a place I can go to anytime I want and call my own. I hope it stays that way.

January 18, 2003

The coldest day of winter so far this morning. It's a quiet Saturday, the oak trees are now completely bare, and the sky is blue behind the branches. Lots of people say they don't like this cold weather, but I do. It makes me feel even more grateful for the warm, cozy apartment I enter after parking my car each night after work and walking on the sidewalk to the stairs that lead to my place. On the way those few short steps, I always check the sky to see if I can see the Big Dipper, which is always right above me on clear nights, and the other stars and the moon in whatever phase it is in. In short doses, the real cold air wakes me up, makes me feel alive and energized.

It used to be that I more or less dreaded January each year, especially if it held days on end of gray clouds without a break for sunlight. But now I don't mind this month so much no matter what it contains. I am content with it. It is just like the other months of the year, part of the continuing cycle of the seasons, and I welcome it. The first signs of spring in early February are very nice, however.

January 9, 2003

I want to record the scene at Folly Beach the other afternoon, late, a Saturday, at the conclusion of a heavily overcast day. In fact, there had not been a break in the clouds all day until sunset when I looked toward the south end of the beach, toward the Washout and in the direction of town, and saw the first shafts of sunight coming through the clouds at a 45 degree angle, spreading out over the ocean miles in the distance.

A section of clouds was opening up to the light as I was watching, and the rose/crimson hues of the advancing sunset became more striking and beautiful. Soon, the sunset covered a larger and larger area of the sky,right over the coastline where land and sea meet. As I was looking at this sublime natural phenomenon, I felt the warmth emanating from that not-too-far-off place, and feeling of hope and contentment came over me. I have had the image of that sunset in my mind all week.

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