Yesterday I took an afternoon walk with my dog Murdoch around Pine Lake out at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge just south of Cheney Washington. It is one of my favorite places to walk because the scenery reminds me of a Van Gogh painting of the landscape around Arles, France. I think Eastern Washington has a lot of similar colors and textures to Arles.
As a photographer in the northern latitudes of Washington state I have come to favor winter light because of the way the sun stays so low in the horizon which permits me to make photographs throughout the day with beautiful side lit texture. Winter skies are often accompanied with just a little overcast giving it a beautiful softness that further reminds me of dutch landscape paintings.
The sun is over 90 million miles away and I am but one human out of 7.9 billion standing alone in this spot at this moment, and yet I sense a connection to something divine through the beauty that exists in the aesthetics of the scene and in the mathematical precision in which the cosmos orbit.
I can’t help but think about the ancestors who built Stonehenge and other structures that marked the each solstice so accurately thousands of years before. I think they must have appreciated the winter light in a similar way that I do now.
Farmers understand just how much work is happening in the soil hidden under winter snows. Just last week I was looking at the patch of earth beneath the walnut tree in our yard and noting how quickly all the leaves had broken down. You could hardly tell that there had even been a carpet of fallen leaves beneath the tree just a few weeks ago.
Winter is also the season where the most work on my inner spirit happens. Growth starts from deep within like next year’s crop of winter wheat. In the short days of winter dormancy gratitude is growing.