Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rushing along

I don't know what it has been like where you live, but here it seemed winter would last forever. It was just last week that I was bundled up and huddled along the ice-bound shores of the lake waiting for the sun to rise. I still had the chance to make ice sculptures it was so cold here. The snow was deep in the woods, but it was crystallized and granular. The delicate flakes long gone, but now a coarse sugary texture. Difficult to make sculptures with as it does not stick together well. So this time of year is tricky in terms of making sculptures. But the sun is so strong now that the snows do melt, even if the temperatures can only rise to the low 40s which was all that could be managed last week. But the emerald green mosses are emerging and letting me know that soon, very soon it will be time to play with this exquisite green once more.

The combination of melting snow and icy nights makes for some fascinating sculptures to be found however! One day, while walking in a nearby field, I found these delicate polka dot creations creating an exquisite lace effect at the edge of the snow. The day was grey and the wind was cold, but the day before had been sunny. Just warm enough to create the droplets on the underside of the paper thin ice... which re-froze in the chill and still night air.

I had planned to go back the next day and collect some of the ice to make a tiny creation to go with the snowdrop flowers that I had also found that day, but alas, it was raining and I knew I had missed the moment. This is how it is here in April. One moment winter still has her grip on the land, and then in just the turn of a day, the great melting begins. It has been that way here once more. The week that started icy ended balmy and we have not looked back.

All it took was 2 really warm days and the peepers (tiny frogs with a VERY loud voice) returned to pierce our eardrums each night. Birds of many kinds returned to the area and some, like the large flocks of Juncos that now are gathering in these woods are now getting ready to fly north having spent their winters here in our more hospitable forests. Two days ago, as the warm thermals pushed up from the south, I was witness to a rare event... a male Marsh Hawk (also known as a Harrier) courting his Lady with a spectacular display of acrobatic flying. I have lived here for 15 years and have welcomed a pair back each year but I had never seen this spectacular display of flying skill. I was very worried when none arrived last spring... not sure what might have happened to them. And it was a strange an somewhat empty summer to not have them patrolling the open fields, keeping the vole population in check. So this year, when a pair arrived (returned?) to these fields, I was overjoyed... and his courtship flight said exactly how I felt about their arrival.

This time of year things are not at their most photogenic in terms of backgrounds, so I like to use the weeks of April and November to scout out possible locations, such as this mossy stream. The location looked like it had loads of potential. But, as one who has grown accustomed to naked branches, I had forgotten how transformed the forests become once the leaves emerge. I returned to this location just two weeks after I shot it last year, and it was a deep dark cave of green. No sunlight was allowed to reach the pool as the trees overhead completely filled in all available sky with their new green garments. So, I was put on notice. If I want to use this place I have to plan ahead and watch carefully and be here the one week out of the entire year when the leaves begin to emerge but are not fully so... and, if like last year, that week happens to be a week of rain, well then, you just have to wait till next year and see how it goes.
I'll let you know ! :-)

1 comment:

Bonnie K said...

Wonderful attitude to have, Sally. Just this morning I greeted the gray rainy day (here in western NY) with as much joy as I would have a bright sunny morn. Means a shift in plans (not walking first thing as I'll wait until the clouds break this afternoon), but still a day to be joyous about. I finally had a chance to watch the PBS video... WONDERFUL! I am so happy for you. Thank you for bringing joy to the rest of us from your heart and your corner of this world.

Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.