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By Joseph Dempsey The Light of Winter

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Yes. There was sound,  

And plenty of it. The old “If a tree falls in the forest does it make“ question can stimulate long, deep discussions in a dormitory room. Sometimes far into the night. The reality is, when a tree hits the deck, there is respectable molecular disturbance accompanied by a thud, crunch, crackle, or a cacophony including all of the above. Gravity ain’t gonna change, and things coming to a sudden stop upon collision tend to make a racket. If you don’t believe me, ask the disciples of Sir Isaac Newton. They’ll set you straight.

With one sophomoric legend debunked (at least here), another begs to be exposed, and that is the notion that there isn't much to see in Mother Nature’s boondocks during winter months. The fact is, there is more to see in winter months. To be a believer, you must see the same scene in both summer and winter, or simply place your faith in those of us who have.

This is particularly true in areas where deciduous trees dominate the landscape. (Those are the kind which drop their leaves and go dormant in the winter). Once the leaves fall to the ground, unfettered sunlight floods in. What once was hidden under canopy is now sharply revealed. You can see across, up, down, and sideways. New rocks, crevices, and drop-offs appear.

When you drive through mountains wearing their spring and summer greenery and look down from the curvy roadway, you may calmly observe, “Well, my, my, doesn’t that look deep.” Do the same when the trees are naked, and most reactions turn to “Holy mackerel Ethel, look at that drop off! It’s scary!”

In the scene above, you can see the thickness of the woods. You can see all of the water, not just the patches lit from above. Sure, the colors are not as vibrant, but the shapes are better defined. The intricacies of trunks , branches, and twigs weave a complex story of forest life. It’s the true story of nature.

You see fallen limbs and trunks, never to be removed by man, but left to contribute their remains to the cycle of death and regeneration. You see saplings yearning to thicken their trunks. You see evidence of Mother Nature’s violent streak, a stark contrast to her buttercup, lacy, pastoral side.

As you stand in late winter in the midst of this natural bareness, you know you are in the presence of an unseen coiled spring, straining at its wintery restraints, waiting for the right temperatures to break the invisible fetters.

Looking at nature in the winter is like listening to the mournful tunes and rhythms of the andante of a Baroque concerto. You languish in the largo, knowing the allegro vivace is on the next page.

L O C A T I O N: Just west of the bridge over the Ouachita River between Gurdon and Sparkman, Arkansas. This is one of the few one-lane bridges over the river. Commercial traffic is restricted. It is a good place to see the river.

N O T E S:  
Tripod mounted Nikon D300 • AF-S Nikkor 18-135mm f3.5-5.6G ED • ISO 200 • 1/40@f18 • Tripped with remote cord • Post processed with Photoshop CS3 Extended, Photomatix and Genuine Fractals Print Pro.

See more winter pictures on our blog, Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Click the jump wings
to see the previous
Photo of the Week.
Click the camera
for an index to every
Photo of the Week.
weekly grist

Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog.  — J. D.


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