It was a very fine West coast winter day – quite mild and with sunshine! Our walk took us through the woods and out the other side towards farmland and pasture. This view is looking back towards the path to the woods. I like the feeling of this painting. It captures the cool winter sun and the mystery of the path.
You are reading “If On a Winter’s Day a Traveller”,
perhaps online, or on your phone,
during your commute. The train, the bus,
the streetcar is quite crowded,
jostling and rattling around
as you get your head into the poem.
What lies ahead? The curve of road or track
leads on to darkness, mystery, confused
deep tunnels, full of dusty lights,
or intersections where the traffic snarls
into a knot. There’s no way out
but forward, so you go,
The screen is dark, you’ve been distracted,
and now the poem is done.
It doesn’t quite look that wintery here yet since there isn’t any snow on the ground. But I was in the mood to paint snow so I found a photo I took last year where the snow was bending the ferns along the path and a low winter sun shone through the trees.
Crooked branches, beams of light
scatter through the cold wet air
as fleeting day yields to the night:
sun slipping back to winter’s lair.
The slushy snow beneath my boots…
they mire in mud, they skid on roots,
as cold seeps in beneath my coat
while the daylight dims, a mote
of yellow, distant, glimmering light
is all that’s left of this short day
while long before me lies the way
with miles to go before the night
has gripped the forest, cold and deep,
so I walk on, and do not sleep.
Another painting from a walk in Stanley Park in later December. The low slanting sun lit up some branches and tree trunks with a bright luminous glow – one of those sights that stays with you. Like the last painting, this one was painted alla prima. I think when the painting is being completed in one session, I put fewer expectations of perfection on myself and the result is freer and more full of life.
Tom was inspired to write a playful poem for the imagined wildlife of this scene.
Burnished branches standing in the dark
of taller trees, so jealous of the light
that warms the winter chill from broken bark,
reminding passers-by of summer’s bright
seductive evenings. Once not long ago
beneath spring skies two squirrels ran about
chittering while running to and fro
each ignoring all the other’s shouts
of joy and anger, frustration and love
until their dance completed in a tangle
in the branches far and high above
wherefrom a tail might be loosely dangled.
Now in the winter’s chill they’re safe and warm
Curled and sleeping far from winter storms.