The landscape listens
Good grief! This new discipline is positively out of control. Day three and still no signs of being distracted from the task in hand. Or head. Or wherever on earth I’ve got it stashed.
Wednesday. Not wordless for me, I’m afraid. Rather I thought I might devote Wednesday to Wanderings. I thought about making it a day to share walks but decided that, being somewhat discursive by nature, that I would inevitably stray from the path. Wandering, on the other hand gives scope for excursions other than walks – a junket here, a jaunt there, a foray and a forage. Much more pleasing to one as naturally meandering as I.
Words to accompany these expeditions may be many or may be few but I do promise lots of pictures which may or may not please the eye. I’m of the little lauded ‘Myopic Point and Shoot School of Photography’ so be gentle … I don’t profess any excellence, simply enthusiasm.
Today’s little ramble was more than four years ago when I was first living here in Massachusetts. We subsequently returned to France for eighteen months and I commenced my present life here two years ago.
Arriving anywhere in winter gives a naked narrative to the unfamiliar landscape. Nothing is hidden, all is laid bare and it is a season I love for that reason. Three things struck me immediately about this place: the water, the light and the sheer volume of trees. Fortunate since water, trees and light are three abiding succours of my soul.
This set of pictures was taken in the Assabet Wildlife Reserve which is literally on our doorstep. I share them with you for a flavour of what I mean by water, trees and light. This triptych captivated me then and still does now. In winter, they are particularly lovely to my eyes. But in honesty, they are particularly lovely to my eyes in Spring, in Summer and in Autumn also.
PS: the unavoidable PS: The title is a line from Emily Dickinson’s lovely ‘There’s a certain Slant of Light’. Dickinson was from Massachusetts, born in Amherst, directly west of here. She captures her place quite perfectly.
‘There’s a Certain Slant of Light’
That was a splendid return from the wanderer.
Thank you, Helen. Let’s hope one can keep it up somewhat!!!
The slant of light seems to be perfectly captured in all of your Myopic Point and Shoot photos. Someone needs to give that tree a prod so it can rest at last!
I must admit that when I walked there recently (dogs are not allowed so it’s not such a regular haunt as it was pre-canine chaos) I didn’t notice the tree so perhaps someone or something has obliged. In any event, I shall go back and hunt … nice excuse for a peaceful afternoon and it’s close enough to home too!
Your words and photos are like a breath of fresh air.
Miriam, what a lovely comment. You’ve absolutely made my day! 💫
Oh, I’m so glad Osyth. Hope you’re doing well. xx
We are. And I hope you are too xx
Yes indeed. xx
Lovely images. I love trees, marshes and light. You are so right that winter has its own particular light and that there is no where to hide… I am originally for a very huge forest & marshes area in Northern Quebec so these images have lots of appeal to me. (Suzanne)
When we are back to normal and we can travel again, we intend to take a road-trip to Canada. I am limbering up to being blown away …. it’s lovely here but I am pretty sure Canada does beauty on steroids! The light here is delicate – often giving soft pinks and mauves at sunset and the palest almost fragile quality to blue skies. Of course there are days when it is much bolder and brasher but I love the subtle days.
Actually, Canada has pretty much the same landscape as the US (when you think about the 100km on each side of the border where most people live). It is only if you go further north that you will see differences with the US as the vegetation would become quite different. There are beautiful areas in Canada as there is in the US and some boring ones…sometimes you have to drive for a long time to see changes in the scenery (it isn’t like in Europe where you can 100 km and see major differences in landscape). For example, last summer we drove from Montreal to Chicago and it was so boring as the scenery never changed for over 1,400 km. But you are most welcome to come see on your own if we are ever allowed to travel again!
Of course that must be so. And I do hear what you are saying about the lack of variety in the landscape. You have to go a long way from here to feel any change. Though we are fortunate to have coastline and mountains in easy reach which makes it better, I think than some areas!
I shelter my soul with the cover of trees, strengthen my sight as the sun sets. I pear into the unknown as I walk her path, alone with nature I am set free.
Beautiful words, John. Thank you. I knew you would get it 😊
You have captured the local flora so perfectly for the season. Although I find it odd that Dickinson’s poem rang through my head in your voice.
Hello, Not Quite Hyacinth …. you are very kind. That is indeed strange – the poem in my voice. Thank you for visiting. I do hope to see you again.
Love the Dickinson poem and these photos…they’re so stark yet so serene and peaceful.Like you want to be there. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, George. One of the wonderful things about being here in the US is really diving deep into American writers and poets. Of course I was familiar with Dickinson and loved the work of hers that I knew. But here I have read far more of hers and many, many others and what a joy it is. This country really has produced some shining stars in the literary and poetic firmament. The photos tend to be more luck than judgement but I’m very happy they made you feel the place, somewhat.
I need to spend more time in Massachusetts. Superb landscapes, well captured.
Thank you, Peggy! That’s high praise indeed, coming from you. And I’m very happy to have enticed you to spend more time in Mass!
Indeed, and my like button isn’t working—again!
Beautiful. I won’t add anything further to the well-deserved applause but share an anecdote. Your meandering, wandering soul is best where it is right now. Went out for a much-need run in the woods near us yesterday and was met by gendarmes checking for papers. Produced my dérogation stating name, birth date, address, purpose of outing, date and time. With my ID card. Was informed that I was just within the allowed 1 km from home but that ‘being in a high-risk group’ (my obvious advanced age!😂) I should really try to stay home. Did I have a garden? Yes, I said, but it’s not big enough to run in. Maybe he didn’t like my sarcasm. I got told off for going out twice in one day (although I pointed out it was allowed since I had to walk the dogs first thing and later take one-hour run for my own sanity). He advised me to go straight home and stay there. I decided not to point out that there were three of them in the car, with no masks, exposing me and themselves to their potentially viral microdroplets. 😡 All of this to say: enjoy your (relative) freedom in Massachusetts. France under confinement isn’t much fun!
I could utter an expletive, reading this! I’m appalled. A trio of jobsworths who didn’t like the fact that you were doing exactly what you are allowed to do and they felt the egg on their own faces, if you ask me. We are fortunate here and I must say that as I speak to friends in other places both here and in Europe it really brings it home just how fortunate. By the way, I refuse to accept that you are any more of obvious advanced age than I am. Courage, mon amie!
Mel, I feel you and I agree totally with your ‘bile rising reaction’…. Also, I’m immensely thankful for ‘having gone out’ just in time – here the lake shore with many benches and large stones to sit on is tied off with the well-known red-white plastic ribbon and benches inwards have been taken off their ‘mooring’ so that there are no more possibilities to sit down…. Except that on my evening walk yesterday there was a group of four (youngish) people sitting cosily together, smoking, guitar out, laughing and chatting…. my blood boiled and I even considered calling the police. But I am NOT a person to denounce, so I swallowed my anger and marched on. Suffice to know that ONE person who doesn’t know to be infected, can spread the virus liberally about….. I also realise that all our rants (and there are many, many) and cries of desperation for those idiots don’t help one bit because they probably don’t read, listen to warnings, watch relevant shows and information!
In CH, we still can go out, do our shopping, with restrictions too, but mild ones. Hero Husband works like everybody else from home – and we are really blessed to be able to lead a near normal life.
I have one couple of friends in France and she told me that they are fine, even though the husband is not very well (generally not bec. of the virus) and that they walk at least 2km every day. I said: But you can’t – you’re only allowed within one kilometer and you must carry proof of your outings. She said: No, no, we have far over 10’000sq.m of forest and land, nobody can see us, control us – we are just so lucky! I always felt sorry for them for the immense work they have with their land, now they no longer think of selling but are happy to be ‘just at home’!
Sorry Osyth; for taking over – it will be your turn soon 🙂
Don’t apologise, Kiki – every word you say resonates. My husband said the other day ‘what will it take before these *insert expletive descriptive* listen and stop behaving so foolishly’. He then answered his own question ‘it will only happen when someone they love dies of the virus’. For me, I am making the most of where I am, finding the value in the way things are and stories from many friends in France, and the terrible toll on life there, make me content to be here. Find the value in the way things are, a wise friend said to me once. It has never been truer.
Beautiful captures. I can feel that fresh air!
Sumith, how lovely to ‘see’ you! And what a kind complement. How are things for you? Please stay safe and well. I know it can’t be at all easy.
Thank you Osyth. We are ok. Hope you all are safe.
I’m heartened to hear that. We are doing well and doing everything in our power to remain safe. Sensible is the new most important word in the language, I feel.
Yes that true! Please stay safe.
ah, Emily Dickinson – excellent choice for your text and pix… <3 otherwise, we do believe that NATURE does listen and watches us, too, as Montaigne stated:"La Nature peut tout et fait tout!" 🙂
Montaigne is absolutely right. Nature is at the heart of everything. She controls everything and it is the foolish who ever imagine they can tame her. I’m so glad you approve of the poem. I love Emily Dickinson and she loved nature!
Winter well depicted
Thank you Derrick. Most kind.
Lovely photos, and those Emily Dickinson words fit them perfectly xx
I’ve taken the cue from being here to really steep in American writers and poets. Emily Dickinson, I knew somewhat but she really did produce some beautiful work. Thank you for praising my pictures – I enjoy photography but really have little idea what I’m doing!! Xx
I very much focused on English writers when I was at uni – I think I have some catching up to do. The pictures are lovely, don’t be hard on yourself! xx
Now’s the time …. I don’t think I’ve read as much in many moons as I have recently. And I am quite a voracious reader at all times. Thank you …. Xx
I haven’t read much since a mad spell last summer, but it’s not as though I don’t have the time! I must try harder xx
Maybe you are a seasonal reader … xx
Tbh I think that was more to do with moving flats and having no phone, broadband or tv for three weeks! xx
Yup – I can see how that would put the spotlight on reading!! xx
Yup! And even then I was juggling two iPads and a Kindle Fire: different books downloaded on them 😉 xx
Contrary to knowing what a Raspberry Pi is, I can’t read anything but a traditional paper-paged book. I’m deeply admiring of those that can do the kindle thing! xx
I have so many of those paper things, far more than I should have in a limited area. Ebooks are a life (or at least space) saver for me xx
I would love a library – you know one of those with moving ladders to access books from the walls of shelves reaching right up to an unfeasibly high ceiling. A shower, kitchenette and pull down bed – I’d be as happy as a pig in a wallow. Dreams are harmless, yes?
My sister works in one of those, she says it’s the most fun part of the job. Sounds like a plan, and from now on I think I’ll be saying ‘Oh wallow’ if anything goes wrong 😉 xx
Yes, do! Envious of your sister …. very envious! xx
lovely photos and very atmopspheric
Sheila, thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to leave such a generous comment.
Lovely! Yes, the light and the water. You need both to make a landscape beautiful.
I was deprived a trip to the Arizona desert at the start of March when Harvard imposed a travel ban …. that was the moment when we knew how things were going to play out, so The Brains had to take his conference by Skype or Zoom or some such – something that is now entirely normal. Anyway. I was disappointed on a number of levels, of course but not disgruntled. I would love to see a landscape with no water and understand the effect on self. I suspect I won’t actually love it if I ever get another chance. Thank you for your comment …. spirit if lifting!
In small doses I can see the attraction, but not vast swathes of it.
Everybody has to Zoom now, despite the security problems with it. I hate those things. Can’t even stand the telephone.
The greatest stress for me, living in a different country to my children is the need (theirs) to FaceTime and other beastly platforms in order to communicate with me. I can do phone (landline not mobile – can’t stand those either though, of course, I have one) but really I prefer to write to them.
Yes, I write but I know I’m likely to get a reply as a text message. They only even use messenger because they think it’s easier for me than the phone. I have no idea how anyone types a message quickly on a phone. FaceTime is a horror.
The girls have now joined me to another horror called ‘HouseParty’ Which will apparently make it easy for us all to talk together as though we are all together. I will report back but I suspect I will need to lie down in a darkened room after the experience!
My cousin has three children. The eldest is married with two small children the youngest is single, the middle one is on holiday somewhere stupid like Peru and is stuck there for the duration. All (except the one in Peru) have moved back in with my cousin and his wife. It would drive me bananas but they love one another’s company.
I’m with you … I love them but, as my therapist said to me when I was doing the brain-drain and rebuild stuff last year, ‘adult children should not visit for more than 3 days. 5 max!’
This house has a ‘kitchen’, our bedroom and room we work in, plus a small afterthought at the bottom of the stairs to the attic where the youngest slept. Last Christmas we had three of them for a fortnight…
And you all lived? My respect for you has soared exponentially!
It was touch and go at times. One of the guests was the explosive daughter.
Well I think you did better than us. We only had 2 and managed to combust on Christmas Eve!!
Ha ha! That was us the year before, approximately twenty minutes after she arrived.
Cannabis is legal in this state. I was actually tempted to visit the Mary Jane Store for the first time!!! My most explosive daughter has settled down since turning thirty and now being a mother herself ….
Maybe there’s hope then. No babies though please. I’m not ready for that yet.
Haha! I didn’t think I was but actually it is wonderful. However it should be noted that baby is in London and I am 3,000 miles away. I was there for the birth, returned in October and saw her in February. I certainly was not and never will be ready to be one of those hands-on involved round the clock grandparents that seem to be in vogue these days 😉
I like babies, children in general, but like you, I have other interests too and they are not really baby compatible. The reason I didn’t write seriously until they were all not only at school but old enough to take the blame if they didn’t do their homework. I haven’t been rid of them for long enough to want to stop again.
If I lived in the same country I think I would view it differently. It’s really important to me to have my freedom. LIke you, I raised children for a looooong time and I think the reward is to be able to do what I want now and for how ever long I have before they have me stuffed and mounted as is my post-death wish (I jest …. probably)
I feel very much like I did when I was just finishing university, wondering when real life is going to start.
“The landscape listens”
and what it hears
is the sound of storms
weeping countless tears
and the thunder rumbling
when the storm front nears
then it passes on still-like
like our days flow into years
That is stunning. Thank you. I am going to copy it into my notebook so it doesn’t ever get lost.
mistermuse: Yours? Such beauty! Congrats – thank you.
Yes, he writes beautifully, Kiki …. his words really are a gift
Thank you, Kiki. As Osyth kindly noted, the words are mine, but then I’m not a novice, as I’ve had hundreds of poems published over the years in various journals and litmags….so if the muse and I haven’t learned how to put together a few well-chosen words by now, we never will!
I appreciate that, Osyth, and though it may sound trite, your appreciation is my reward.
Not trite at all. Lovely.
Oh my goodness, your writing is so beautiful! It is so fluid and natural. You are a born writer … 💕
*fails to get through door on account of inflated head* xxx
I now realise how much I missed your writing. You are a truly gifted word smith. So much so that I can never reply or comment right away. I let your words flow into my heart, meander through my mind, go for a walk with your ‘pack’, digest them….
Also, your photos are anything but. I also have no formal or even informal ‘formation’ – and yet, so many people praise my photography. It’s not my (or our) talent but the love in our eyes, hearts and finally, in our hands. So, well done, my friend!
Now, that you mentioned ‘reading American writers’, another one of my eternal questions is getting answered. E.g. I read (or started reading) Margaret Atwoods books a looooong time ago, other US/Canadian writers too and I even stayed faithful to quite a number of them – but I wondered why I wd read so much of those far away countries. Never thought that the seed-grain was of course laid to work when I, at a very young age and freshly married, lived in Canada for <2yrs…. A AHA moment! Ta.
I’m humbled by your comment, Kiki. Thank you so much. And yes. Reading opens worlds to us that we may never experience but when we have read and then we get the opportunity to visit or live in a place we have immersed in as readers, then I think it is really special.
… and after a certain slant of light on a winter afternoon, Emily Dickinson thinks:
“A light exists in spring
Not Present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here
A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That science cannot overtake,
But human nature feels.”
Your post is filled with lovely words and pretty pictures, Osyth.
I had read a little Dickinson before coming here in permanence but being here prompted me to really dig deep into American poets and authors. And what joy it is! Dickinson is high on my list of treasures found. And those words …. exquisite and unarguable!
Your photos are gorgeous! I agree with you on the beauty of winter, the barren trees seemingly dead but to the observant eye, teeming with life and possibility.
So glad to have you back Osyth!
Thank you! I love taking pictures …. The Bean used to get quite irritated when we walked extensively in France in cold weather as I insisted on stopping and snapping far to frequently for her … she loves the hikes but she always has an eye forward to the supper bowl!!!
A lovely, empty landscape. Your photos more than do it justice.
Thank you. It is lovely 😊
Beautiful. I remember hiking through the blogs in the northeast on the Appalachian Trail, but it was mid/late summer then, and they were so full of life. Great photos.
Thank you so much for that lovely comment. I would love to hike the Appalachian Trail – I rather fancy doing it North to South. It must have been wonderful and certainly the North East is beautiful in late summer. Life still crackling before the slow slide into winter. I’m glad you enjoyed this post.
I think you’ve captured the trees, the water and the light beautifully, Fiona! As much as I prefer my trees green and full of leaves, there’s something about them in winter that’s almost fairytale-like and I also love taking pictures of them then. The poem is wonderful, I haven’t read it yet so thank you for sharing it too! Have a lovely weekend! xxxxx
Thank you Sarah. I like the bare ness of winter when the structure of trees and landscapes is revealed. But I also love trees in leaf and trees in autumn ready to shed but giving us that gasp worthy moment of glorious burning colours. I’m glad you liked the poem … I’m very fond of Dickinson – I’ve really immersed in American poets and writers here. I hope your weekend is full of light and laughter! Xxx