Tuesday, January 06, 2015

In a winter landscape

It's been gray and dark here, last weekend especially. The skies hovered close above my house, while the rain poured down. It was so dark, even near the noon hour, that my electric window candles in the living room remained lit.

Then the rain ceased for a while, and the skies lightened. I ventured outside, because it was unusually warm.

The light is different in winter, I think, especially on a gray day. Trees' branches stand out sharply, black skeletons against the sky, and their every movement in the wind is visible. The lawns are bare of leaves now, and the grass dormant, yet every tuft of grass stands out in sharp relief, every undulation in the lawn is now visible. These details are not so easy to see during the riotous growing season, when all my lawn becomes a mass of seething green. Looking around, I saw squirrels' nests in a couple of trees. If the trees were in leaf, I would not have seen them.

And then I saw it, in a neighbor's tree, about three houses down. About two feet high, it looked like a large, tan plastic bag had been caught up by the wind and had attached itself to a tree limb. Luckily, the binoculars were right inside the front door, so I grabbed them.

And the "plastic bag" resolved itself into a beautiful red-tailed hawk, sitting regally on the branch, scouting the ground for possible prey.  We see hawks all the time, but we see them in flight -- I had never seen one at rest. I stood there watching it until the rain started again, when it lifted its gorgeous wings and flew off out of sight.

Another gift of winter.

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