January doesn’t exactly call to you. It’s easy to zone out in the numbness of these dull, dreary days. And sometimes the look of January isn’t enough even to make me look up. But the sounds out there, they still work.
There’s no one else around mid-afternoon, and it’s quiet. I try to convince myself it’s peaceful, but the mood is more like melancholy. Trees and what’s left of plants look like they’re scarcely holding on. It’s a still cold quiet void. Quiet and gray. My spirit too.
Yet, if you hang around the quiet long enough, there’s more than silence.
A subtle rippling, just audible. Water moving over stones and around bends. Slow enough to make singular tones. Soothing. Like listening from another room, while someone strums a guitar. Slowly picking the strings, one string at at time.
That kind of soothing.
Then the cheeps. Tiny cheeps. I’m partial to towhees, and they never let me down. Winter, summer, doesn’t matter. They’re around, and they’re gonna cheep. But other birds too. The cardinals, for sure. Their winter tones are sweet. Comfortable, less commanding, less stressed, almost purposeless. Not the loud complicated spring show-off mating songs or the summer alarms and calls. It’s soft and gentle. As if they’re going about life, hunting the brush for a meal or snack, and mindlessly humming.
There’s been too much gray. Too much cloudy. I’d rather have snow. But we get comfort where we can. And January brings a quiet comfort. If nothing else, it brings quiet. Quiet intersecting lonely intersecting reassurance. A kind of hushed reassurance.
All photos and images here are my own.
They may not be used elsewhere or reblogged.
Don’t wish it away
Don’t look at it like it’s forever
from Elton John’s “That’s Why They Call It the Blues”
lyrics by Bernie Taupin
photographed september 4, 2020
Evening walks feel different now. Sundown comes earlier, for sure. But it’s more than that.
Is it the seasons? People? Maybe people are tired of walking the same paths, the same trees, the same curves and dips in the surface. Parents tired of getting their kids and their bikes down to the trails, skinned knees, everybody trying to get along and enjoy nature. Or maybe it’s the kids who are tired of it. Maybe they’re getting ready for school, however school is going to work this year. I think there are fewer people walking the trails.
But it’s not just people. What was alive, thriving, robust, a month ago is starting to fade. I’m avoiding the words.
I look around and I see sad. Maybe lonely. Past the prime. On the way to a harsh reality I’m not ready to deal with.
There are fall flowers, but the brush is almost down to leafless sticks in many places. It can make you careless because there’s still poison ivy among whatever is growing. Already in September, trees are skimpier. Not bright fall colors and dropping leaves en masse, but leaves are weathered, and when you look up now, you see more sky than lush green. In July I could only hear moving water somewhere behind all the green, but now I can see right down to the creek.
Even the dirt looks pale, anemic. Surely the dirt doesn’t change.
September sunsets are lovely. Pale bits of amber light make it past the lowest branches. And September’s pretty wildflowers let you pretend. For just a little longer. But, ready or not, change is on its way.
The air was still saturated from last night’s rain, and the morning sun was shining bright.
A few inches away, a few feet away, and beyond.
I was glad I decided to head out early that muggy morning.
It looks like these trees and this brush are endless. Sometimes I feel that way too. But they’re not.
I was hunched over, trying to get a picture of the flowers and the green and a bit of the sunlight still coming through. It was getting close to eight, and there was a towhee doing what towhees always do at sundown. It was ‘drink your tea’ time. They sing those notes over and over, part of the evening ritual.
But this time there was music too. Human type music. Past all the green, up a hill, there was a house and the glow of flames in a fire pit, and somebody was out back. None of my business, but how could I not notice? He was playing folksy music, and it sounded so good I wanted to yell, “Hey, what’s that you’re playing?” Of course I didn’t. I thought it was somebody sitting by the firepit playing a guitar or banjo, and singing one of those folk songs that feel like springtime, and good times, and flowers in a field. Eventually I realized the music was too good, it must have been a recording.
I didn’t want to move on, but I started walking slowly along the path, around a bend, and the music playing behind me faded in the distance, past the trees.
Photographed May 29, 2020