March 2, 2010

Winter Light: Three Vases

This morning I woke before dawn and saw a luminous red sky streaked and patched with dark violet-blue clouds, one having the leaping shape of a dolphin poised above the dark hills. As the sun rose, its light fell across the three Chinese vases on my dresser, making a drama of their shapes, shapes based on traditional Chinese porcelain. They huddle together, their smooth surfaces enlivened by reflection.

The bright sun did not remain through the day, but shone occasionally through high and mackerel clouds. The air was mild, though, and when I went into the village I heard that the maple sap was running. This may have to be my last post on winter light, since the start of the sap run marks the beginning of a new season.


  1. What a beautiful post: image, words & sentiments! This weekend Chicago area has temps predicted, for the first time in three months, in the 40s. The Silver Maple in front of ny office is blooming...

  2. Simply lovely light!
    Here we have freesias, daffodils, poppies, roses - can't compete with the subtlety of Vermont through your eyes.
    Maple syrup is here too, in plastic bottles.
    L in LA

  3. Thank you.

    It's wonderful to see the seasons unfold here in Vermont, where spring, because it comes so late, is so precious. Even the windy city has a tree blooming already! When I lived in northern California for three years, teaching, I saw daffodils in February; spring came after a brief and mild flirtation with winter, so had none of the exhilaration that it has here.

  4. I'm with Julie! Your "mackerel clouds" is one of those "I wish I'd written that" phrases; beautiful image. Our temps will also hit the 40s in the next day or two and I ran to the window after reading Julie's comment and, sure enough, our silver maple is popping. There is a silver maple that I've been told about, that I need to hunt for, because it was Aldo Leopold's "first sign of spring tree."

    You have had such a wonderful, thoughtful string of posts that they have overwhelmed me to the point of not commenting. Instead sent me off thinking ...

  5. What a wonderful compliment, Linda. I wish that I could take credit for the "mackerel clouds" phrase, but it is a named type of sky: altocumulous mackerel sky, according to Wikipedia, "an indicator of moisture and instability at intermediate levels". And: "Clumps and rolls of clouds that resemble mackerel scales altogether."

    I wonder if we have silver maples around here...

  6. Sugar Maples will do. For some reason I noticed this year that the earliest greens that dot the budding mountain-sides are mot leaves at all. They are the seed pods of maple trees that give way to leaves later on, and give a "laciness" to the landscape. The maple not only signals Spring, it also lets us view the micro-climates that swirl around our hills, valleys and along the streams.

  7. john, I love the different colors of early spring, not only those greens of the sugar maple, but the reds of various new tree growth. Some days it looks almost like Fall.