Winter Morning

Alexander Pushkin's "Winter Morning," excerpt:

Cold frost and sunshine: day of wonder!  
But you, my friend, are still in slumber - 
Wake up, my beauty, time belies: 
You dormant eyes, I beg you, broaden 
Toward the northerly Aurora, 
As though a northern star arise!

Why am I always quoting Pushkin even though he's not my favorite? Truth is, much of his poetry has been translated surprisingly well from the original Russian, which means less work for me! That said, his Nature-related texts do possess an impressive level of accuracy that could only be appreciated.

Snow Fog (Retro Mobile)

It's been weeks since I've visited the Mountain.

One of the best (worst) aspects to doing so is that I never know what to expect.  There have been times when the town, where I live, was rainy and dreary, whereas higher altitudes were filled with brilliant sunshine, and vice versa. 

On this particular occasion, I stepped into heavy snowfall and Cosmic Grayness. 

Snow-burdened and desaturated evergreens appeared out of its depths, while the chairs on the ski lift, or rather, their barely discernible pixels, dissolved back into it. Not a mule deer or a raven were to be seen or heard in these seemingly lifeless woods.

Postscriptum: With snow overflowing my boots, I slightly underestimated the knee-deep hiking conditions halfway up to the invisible Heavens, making me work as my dog's personal bulldozer.

Pileated Woodpecker

You will think that I'm a total nerd (again!), but I was very excited to finally be able to photograph none other than the pileated woodpecker! What's more, I noticed this creature in a fairly populated area, so I didn't have to climb any mountains.

On second thought, I should probably claim that I climb mountains to stalk animals more often to build up my wildwoman "cred."

My dog was annoyed with an extended stop on our walk--this was his time, after all--but allowed me to observe and photograph this drum performance.

Did I mention that this woodpecker is the size of a crow?

Really huge!


Whereas this year's birthday was spent in a large European city, last year I opted for an all-day photographic trip to the Rockies at the Canadian border.  Rain or snow--depending on the altitude, mud and gusting winds, not to mention two very rowdy dogs excited about being out in the wild, kept me on my toes. 

...With All Their Mysteries Laid Bare

The sky with autumn’s breath is clouded,
More often now the sun is shrouded;
Shorter and shorter grow the days,
Sad rustling fills the woodland ways,
With all their mysteries laid bare;
Southward stretch the caravans
Of wild geese, in noisy clans,
And, mist on meadows everywhere,
A tedious season we await,
Who find November at the gate.
(Alexander Pushkin, tr. A. S. Kline)

Actually, the original Russian talks about the process of the woods slowly revealing their mysteries as autumn charges onward, which is what I illustrated. 

Autumn's Everyday

If it weren't for imported maples, there would be no autumn reds in this part of the Northwest. So, Nature compensates by offering every shade of yellow and orange.

That is, every shade imaginable but impossible to replicate in painting or even photography. 

After all, these mountains are moody and unpredictable. And the same run-of-the-mill aspen can transform from muted, rusted pastels to deep honey or semi-transparent amber all in a single day. 

You just have to see it.