Thursday, mid-morning. Crunching my way up across the field, the thick crust on eight inches of snow forces me to take my time, however much I might think that the real show is in the ridgetop woods, where a heavy coating of hoarfrost is rapidly disappearing from the trees. The sun is strong, and since I don’t own a pair of prescription sunglasses, I have to walk with one eye shut and the other squinting against the glare. Not that this stops me from snapping pictures, of course: dead weeds and grass are always especially photogenic with snow to provide a ready contrast and a smooth white screen for shadows.
I notice it’s my right eye that’s the more sensitive of the two; it’s less painful to squint through my left. Consequently, everything has a reddish or magenta hue, which is especially noticeable because the light is so strong. My right eye sees a more greenish or cyan world. I’ve always thought of my eyes as warm (left) vs. cold (right), and perhaps because I’m right-handed, I do favor the latter. I think you can see this in my photographs, where I so often skew the color balance toward cyan. To me, they just look better that way. But with my cold eye shut and the LCD screen on the back of my camera almost unreadable in the glare, I’m snapping pictures on faith. This turns out not to be a very good idea: none of them come anywhere near the pictures in my mind. Maybe Yeats was on to something with that sententious epitaph of his.
Friday, mid-morning. It’s overcast and warmer, near freezing. On my way up the path to my parents’ house, I come across another walker in the snow — some kind of caddisfly, I think. After a few minutes of walking on top of the snow, it slips under the crust. Perhaps it’s a little warmer under there, or the insect senses that the icy covering offers protection from feathered predators. I watch the dark blob moving under the crust and can still picture the folded wings, the Charlie Chaplin legs, and the inquisitive antennae feeling all over like the hands of someone playing blind man’s bluff, groping for anything warm.
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