After the sleet storm


“Greensleeves was all my joy…” A song that seems to fit the season, wronged as so many feel by the inclement weather, the cold, the diminishing light.

That’s not snow on the hillside, by the way; it’s sleet — close to an inch of it. We’ve gotten far greater accumulations of pellet ice here in the past. A couple times, so much sleet rolled down the steep slopes that our road was almost completely filled in and erased, briefly restoring the mountain to a semblance of its pre-settlement appearance. But even a small amount of ice changes the whole purlieu.

sleet ferns

Christmas ferns sit with their oars at the ready, like Viking longships trapped in a sudden freeze-up. Various other plants and leaves expose their extremities, as if testing the air, or brandishing weapons from a simpler age.

microlandscape with sleet

A chestnut oak leaf curls possessively around its hoard of incidental light. Wait till my lady Greensleeves sees this! Even after the pellets fuse, the ground remains granular, faceted like the eye of an insect.

microlandscape with sleet 2

Strange thoughts, to be sure. But this is not the same dull world I am used to finding under my feet.

12 Replies to “After the sleet storm”

  1. Microlandscape with sleet – looks like a strange abstract aerial view of a very cold sea. Microlandscape with sleet 2 – I can almost imagine being a finely worked design out of delicate glass beads. You have an eye for the exquisite.

  2. We don’t see familiar things. Oh, we see them but we don’t notice them. It’s like the girl next door who turns up at your party all made up and you wonder when she turned into a beautiful woman.

    I’ve copied your top photograph onto my desktop so I can look at it for a while. In my bedroom at home I used to have three painting like that, all empty apart from a stream in one, a bench in another and a path in the third. No people. No animals. Very peaceful. After I left home my dad said he used to sit in the room sometimes and look at them and, although he never said it in so many words, wonder what kind of man his son had grown into.

    I like the word ‘purlieu’ by the way. I’d heard it before but you made me look at it again. I suppose that’s what writing is all about. It’s the same old words again and again but we’re forced to reconsider them when we see them rearranged on a white page, a bit like your leaves in the snow.

  3. Lovely photos. Sleet fern especially.

    We’re under all sorts of storm warnings here – if they prove right, we may see 2-3 feet of snow in the next couple of days. I’m hoping for the electricity’s sake we don’t get the ice the midwest has seen in this system of storms, but appreciate the distant view: the stark beauty of it is unsettling in the best possible sense. Everything looks different, we see anew.

  4. Thanks for all the kind words about the photos and accompanying text. Damn, if y’all had any idea how wiped out I was when I put the post together last night! I didn’t expect to get a single comment.

    Marvin – Sleet is loads better than freezing rain, you bet. I can hear another round of it rattling against the windows right now, and I have my fingers crossed — the predictions have been dire again this time.

    GEM – Thanks. It’s more than an eye, though – it’s Photoshop, too!

    Jim – I like pictures like that as well, but they’re hard to take — even the mechanics, getting them in focus, is challenging for me. I’m suprised you like that one at a larger size; maybe I’ll take another look at it now and see if I see what you do. Of course, part of the problem here may be that every inch of the view from our mile-and-a-half-long road, where this was taken, is familar to me. I walked home from school along it since the age of five. Hence the need to take a closer look and defamiliarize myself, as you suggest.

    Bill – I don’t entirely understand that, but it’s a compelling little poem nonetheless. Thanks!

    Theriomorph – Yes, you folks in New England are certainly getting way more snow that we are so far. I guess the ski people are happy. I hesitate to express my own feelings about snow, since I know you have to drive to work in it.

    robin andrea – That difference is what makes the internet fun, isn’t it? I like seeing your photos of sunsets over the Pacific, too.

    beth – I’m glad you and Theriomorph liked that one. I must admit my own preference was for the last two.

  5. Your pictures make me want to reach out and touch them, Dave. I haven’t yet seen the dimension of texture in photography highlighted in this manner. Captivating.

  6. Oh it’s residue from a search on purlieu, walking rights, forest law, beating boundaries (young boys held upside-down and their heads knocked against stones, trees etc. to insure memory in old age — what a way to use a mind!) and an contrasting and complementary fascination I have with the word loaf, from the German, lauf: to run. A city boy, I grew up thinking loafing was a sedentary, passive affair, but was startled when a country neighbor said of his roaming dog: “He’s a loafer”, and I immediately recognized it as a hill relict.

    Thanks for puzzling!

  7. Zhoen – Hee! But at least they don’t have to amputate your head. (Which is kind of what happens to the trees in a bad ice storm.)

    Parmanu – It’s nice to hear the reaction of a real photographer. Thanks for stopping by.

    Bill – Oh, O.K.! But I think I liked it better before I had any idea of where you were coming from. A solid hit straight to left field.

    Didn’t know that about “loafer” — never heard that idiom around here. Kewl.

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