For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Transforming Snow

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Hunters in the Snow

Stepping outside the house into the garden, I found that snow had fallen in the night. It was like entering a new country, a kind of pristine Eden. What had been so plural and so various the day before was now so streamlined and so uniform. The edges of everything had been straightened. The drive, the path, the lawn, the pond, the patio were now one seamless, sparkling field of whiteness. The ridges on the garage roof, the uneven clods of earth in the raised vegetable bed, the cherry tree's crooked tracery of branches — all were obscured, levelled out, smoothed into snowy perfection.

And I thought how wonderful it would be if we could walk outside into the winter and find the uncomfortable bumps and rough contours of our own imperfect characters flattened and rubbed away, erased under a deep white blanket of nothingness, transformed by the clean, sweeping lines of snow, purified in Zen-like simplicity.  

Claude Monet: The Magpie

7 comments:

Susan Scheid said...

"What had been so plural and so various the day before was now so streamlined and so uniform." Robert, if you haven't yet, I really encourage you to read Emily Dickinson's poem ( not only the version shown, but the earlier version available at the link). http://prufrocksdilemma.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/winter-dreams/. There's also an incredible discussion on the poem going on here: http://www.modpo.org/2013/01/the-mysteries-of-emily/

Ruth said...

Beautifully expressed, and with two lovely paintings.

This smoothing of snow is bliss for me.

George said...

Yes, after five weeks of guests in our house, it would be wonderful indeed to "find the uncomfortable bumps and rough contours" of my own character "flattened and rubbed away, erased under a deep white blanket of nothingness, transformed by the clean, sweeping lines of snow, purified with a zen-like simplicity." I'm working on it, but maybe the real Zen solution is not to work on it, but rather just let is happen effortlessly, like falling snow.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Not sure I agree with you Robert - surely it is our metaphorical 'lumps and bumps' which make us so interesting. Love both pictures - I have them both as jigsaws and I must say that the Breughel is quite undoable (if there is such a word.)

dritanje said...

'the edges of everything had been straightened' I like very much because that's how it looks with snow, doesn't it, and how it feels too. And I think it's a great idea, to imagine our 'bumps and contours' being smoothed away. Interestingly enough, after several days of snow I am beginning to feel just a little tired of its smooth complicity (however beautiful). But that's just me, I like change and variety....!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for these links, Susan...

Ruth & George — it's interesting, but I've been trying to 'force' this idea about the snow into a poem for a few days, and getting nowhere. But when I relaxed and allowed to flow as a short piece of prose, it gelled in an instant!

Pat, Carmen has just this week been given a jigsaw of Van Eyck's 'Arnolfini's Marriage' by someone in her art class! I agree those lumps and bumps perhaps make us more interesting, but sometimes it's so peaceful and liberating to fantasise about being smoothed by the snow and drifting away...

'Smooth complicity" — a great phrase, dritanje. Yes, I like variety too, which is why I like living in our changeable, temperate climate. Though lately, what with all the rain and now the snow, I've been pining for some Mediterranean warmth, even a little Spanish aridity.

Goat said...

Always loved that Bruegel, a copy of which hung on my bedroom wall for years. Just back from the snowy fields and gardens of Upstate New York, to a Korea that was freshly transformed (for the better) when I left but is now snowless and drab. I felt like a better person over there among all that clean white beauty.