In a frantic 2020 it was hard to find silence. The noise and stress of COVID19 and US politics was a somehow both overwhelming and subtle in how it drained a person. The start of 2021 will be no different, even if “New Year’s Day” promises change and we can hope and work toward a better year.
Over the holidays I had time to go on several hikes and photograph. I rediscovered silence.
This past week at Aman Park I could hear the silence. Not the awful “uncomfortable silence” of a holiday dinner conversation gone bad, but the “still, small voice” that the Bible describes. Sometimes there seemed to be no sound at al in Aman Park. Sometimes it was the moving water in Sand Creek or the wind making leaves vibrate. Once or twice it was distant voices calling a child or dog. It was so quiet. Startlingly so. And easily. I realized, “I need this.” I could feel my cortisol levels falling.
Part of the silence, I think, was the impact of the snow. With snow on the ground, branches, and fallen trees, the park was more spacious visually. You noticed the ground more because it was no longer the same tones and hues as the trees and bushes. The snow also muffled some of the usual noise.
I’ve sometimes found that forests and marshes can feel overwhelming with the life teeming in them, fecund. I’ve not spent any time in proper jungles, but hiked on the edges of tropical/rain forest areas. The snow blanketed a park where life was already slowing down as fall turned to winter.
It was lovely.
With the spacious feeling of a snow covered landscape around me, I focused on the shape of the creek. I processed the images in color, because of the snow made the colors more noticeable and pleasing.
Here are a few images of the creek. You can see the tangle of the trees and branches around the creek and often in it. Many living trees look like they’re waiting to fall, and in the meantime they bow like a canopy over the water.
The sky was helpfully gray, so I did not have to work hard to get details in both the shadowy areas and the snow. Occasionally the cloud cover thinned enough that that color cast of the light shifted a bit from blue towards yellow.
In these two shots the shape of the creek is evident, with its sharp turns in on itself evident, especially in the image on the right.
I went back to the “fallen giant” tree in last week’s post. I was curious to see how it compared, covered in snow.
The feel of this image is different partly because of how I processed it, in color and bright, rather than last week’s gloomy black and white tones. But the snow makes a difference. The contrast between the snow and the leaves on little trees around the “fallen giant” stand out more. They draw your eye as much as the trunk of the fallen tree and the large trees below.
Near the end of my hike, I I climbed out of the ravine, toward the parking lot, my car, and the return home, I saw these leaves. These images really capture the light, space, and color that the snow accented.
I did a few images like this last week in Aman Park, before the snow. But the yellow-brown of the leaves did not stand out against the brown ground. The color pops against the snow.
In other images this week, I played a bit with mood. The following images are of trees outside my living room windows.
I gave the first image a happy mood, thinking about the colors and tones in a fantasy or fairytale setting. Not the dark, dangerous forest that tests the heroes but the magical lands where elves have little Edens in dangerous worlds and provide rest for the heroes. Here are two versions of the image, one in color and one in black and white. I like the color better, but even the black and white one feels luminous.
The second image is the forest where the heroes are tested with danger, death, and chaos. Think Jon Snow in the North in Game of Thrones or hobbits and dwarves fleeing Orcs and spiders in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. If the previous image is what I hope 2021 will bring, sooner or later, this one feels like what 2020 mostly was and what the beginning of 2021 likely will be.
Even if a bit depressing, the image is powerful. The thin branches with buds waiting for spring that in the previous pastel toned image seem magical here look like barbed wire.
I still hope that we all stay warm and safe, as my posts said most of last year. So do stay safe and stay warm In 2021, may we also find silence, space to breathe, and more than a bit of magic.