or: Snow is Not White
or: How Many Shades of Blue is Winter?
Helena, Montana is closing in on a record February snowfall. The winter of 1936 set that record. I’m not sure how much snow we’ve had so far this month (usually our driest month of the winter) but, since last Friday, at least 18 inches of snow has fallen outside our house.
Snow is good. The mountains need snow. The soil, the prairies and farms and trees and fish, the rivers and air and people. We all need this moisture and I will be glad of it in summer when the grasses are crisping and crackling. When wildfires do their roaring, racing, burning thing…
The older I get, the less patient I am with the inconveniences of Montana winters. But the colors! Those colors keep me interested!
I go on at least one walk a day, but I get so cold in my bones that it’s just not as much fun as it was when I was younger and (ahem… ummmm) hotter.
it takes a day like today:
wide open skies
not a single cloud
mist hanging close
to the frozen earth
it takes this kind of day
how many different blues are inside the cold
… how many
colors belong to white
You knew that.
So … I hope these images inspire you to take some time and get out into the cold. Bundle up. Stay out until just before the sun goes down so you can grab a little of that incredible light into your soul.
And look. Really look at the colors that surround you!
Those colors will still be inside you on a summer day that tops 100F. When all you want to do is stick your head in a freezer. When you are wishing for some of that of zero-degrees-cold.
Have you ever stayed indoors because it’s just too uncomfortable to go outside? Sometimes we all do that: hide from the elements — wind, rain, heat, snow, ice, sun. When I choose to stay inside and not head out into nature, I often regret it later. Yesterday was one of those days. I seriously thought about not going out in the rain, but Charlie needed his walk and I needed my nature-fix. So, I bundled up, put on a hat, grabbed the umbrella and my camera and took off with my favorite walking buddy.
Rain. Have you ever noticed when it’s raining, that in spite of overcast skies and gray air, the rain has an amazing effect on the colors all around you? I decided to turn our soggy outing into a hunt for awesome colors. This time of year in Montana, the colors of the land appear to fade but they don’t, really. Prairie grasses morph to tan, gray, brown. Wildflowers seed. Yes, aspens, larch and other trees will soon put on a color show, and the ground shrubs are still colorful, but mostly, when our eyes look out at the prairie, our brains see “gray/tan.”
But. When the rain comes, all you have to do is look a little closer and you’ll see a tapestry of brilliant colors. Here’s one, above — a community of lichens.
Click the photo to see it large — you’ll see the colors better. It’s like getting down on the ground up close to your subject. 🙂
One of the projects I did with the girls this week was to create this piece of wall art for their mom’s office wall. (Her office is so totally in need of bright beautiful art to cheer up the grayness. heh.)
We used the paint samples you can get at hardware stores. Home Depot was kind enough to let us have a big handful of samples for free. The girls picked out the colors, punched the shapes with paper punches and bent the wings to make the butterflies look three dimensional. We also used some leftover pieces of printed papers I had lying around, to add variety.
Next we worked together to come up with the swoosh shape and I glued them onto a large piece of foam core. I wanted to use a large stretched canvas, painted white, but my supply budget for the summer wouldn’t stretch quite that far and I didn’t feel like stretching my own canvas. You could also use a piece of nice 1/4 inch birch plywood with sanded edges … maybe leave the natural wood color, or paint with white acrylic or indoor wall paint.
We have a rainbow thing goin’ on in this butterfly swarm, but we could as easily have chosen to use a different color scheme. You could even do an “ombre” design — the great thing about paint samples — there are so many colors, and if you get the sample cards that have 4 or 5 shades of color on each, well that would be just easy!
Glue or stick some hangers on the back and voila! You have a colorful work of happy art. Total cost for this project: $3.00 (I already owned the paper punches. These are expensive, but maybe find someone who would lend you theirs … or plan to spend many evenings hand cutting hundreds of shapes.)
Supply List: craft glue, foam core (stretched canvas or 1/4 inch plywood panel may also be used), lots of paint sample chips, paper punches, one or two picture hangers for the back