Back before our big snowstorm, the week between Christmas and New Year's, we had several warm days. On one such sunny day, we went down to check out winter in the Calendar Garden.
Two nights of hard frost earlier this week, with little wind, and the following day the leaves dropped, straight down, creating round carpets under each tree, at least until the wind picked up.
A walk along the millrace was grays and browns, instead of last week's sun-filled golds, but there were still intriguing reflections to be seen. And with most of the leaves gone, there were other sights -- stem scars, grape vine knots, and black walnuts in odd places.
Gray sky overhead, ebony water in the millrace, and muted bronzes, golds, reds, browns and grays all around, with the still water catching and holding reflections of the branches on the shore this November afternoon. And in a few spots, water and reeds holding the leaves themselves.
Looking down or looking up, I'm finding sparks of light these sunny fall days. Rippling in water, reflecting from the dam pond, rimming clouds and flowers and leaves, when the sun shines, we're all soaking it in, storing up memories of light and color for the gray days that are just around the corner. And yet even those days will have their own subtle ways of catching the light.
Wednesday morning, that is, when the sun was out (this morning brought welcome rain). The redbud are at a prime pink blossom stage, with their heart-shaped leaves just beginning to open at the tips of the branches. New leaves filtering sunlight provide glimpses of lacy green on the shore and reflected in the water.
And I got to enjoy an encounter with a brood of ducklings. They hovered at the edge of the millrace briefly, perhaps hoping for a handout. Then the mother sailed away, and the ducklings turned on their turbo-jets to catch up with her.
I took the scenic route home, to check the fringe of redbud on the edge of Witmer Woods -- beautiful both close up and at a distance.
The combination of late afternoon sun and colorful autumn leaves made for fascinating reflections on the millrace today. Sometimes the ducks paddling by stirred the water into Monet-like impressionistic paintings. Other times the water was still, filled with confusing mirror images.
John and I are spending a weekend away, in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary -- there's a spark of light right there! Our anniversary is actually the first of August, but we were busy celebrating Beth and Jesse's wedding that week.
Earlier today we visited the Kalamazoo Institute of Art, to see their exhibit of Japanese pottery. There is also an exhibit of etchings, titled Shimmerings of Light, Mysteries of Shadow, which strikes me as an excellent option if I ever want to rename this blog.
Today's photos come from the buffet lunch at Saffron's, an Indian restaurant whose flavorful dishes provided an inward spark of light. My mouth is still happy.
We also enjoyed the decor. Each booth had its own artwork, all variations on a blend of traditional and contemporary. It's hard to tell in the photo below, but those diamonds and circles are mirrors, each reflecting light in its own way.
More reflections here, with the interaction of light and water and glass.
And here's a different sort of interaction of light and water and glass, seen across the way. . . a little apple light.
I stood outside the library waiting for Judy this morning, and wondered whether there would be any moments of light today. I hadn’t bothered to bring the camera. It was a rainy morning and we were squeezing our walk in between rain storms.
I stood there, under gray skies and dripping trees, with no sunshine in sight. But slowly I became aware that there was a lot of light around me. The sky, though gray, was light. Bright headlights kept passing out on SR 15, and the windows in Umble Center caught the reflection of headlights waiting at the stoplight, multiplying them till it looked like a wild party was going on inside. The campus lights burned a warm yellow.
And the wet sidewalks reflected the campus lights with puddles of gold, and they reflected the gray skies with puddles of silver. Silver and gold, at my feet. More subtle than diamonds in the dewdrops on grass on sunny days, but a spirit-lifting light when I allowed it to seep into my awareness.
And rainy fall days like this tend to trigger a memory from my childhood days. I see the turn into Carter Rd, with wet leaves on the wet road. This is 10th St from this afternoon, outside our current home, so it's missing the curve, but this is close to what I picture.
And then I’m in our warm home. I can smell beef stew simmering on the stove, and bread baking, or maybe an apple pie. And Judy and I are at the piano, singing, “Joyful, joyful we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love,” and working together on the music, one of us playing the right hand part and the other the left hand.
All thy works with joy surround thee,
earth and heav’n reflect thy rays,
stars and angels sing around thee,
center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
blooming meadow, flashing sea,
chanting bird and flowing fountain,
call us to rejoice in thee.
HWB 71, v 2, Henry van Dyke
I must have absorbed these words at a deep level, because in some way, this is what I’m watching for and what I'm finding as I watch for those sparks of light – the invitation to praise and wonder, wrapped up in light and shadow and leaves and candles and grasses and puddles and clouds.
(this is Judy and me at the piano, from about the right time period, but given the position of our hands and the trolls above the keyboard, I suspect we are playing a duet version of The Hall of the Mountain King)
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.