The other day, the news was this was, so far, the 9th snowiest winter in NYC. (We’re number nine, we’re number nine!) I have to admit most of it has fallen while I’ve been inside. But yesterday I took a walk thinking I would avoid the snow and ended up walking amidst it. Except for a few flakes shooting up my capacious nostrils, it was a damn good walk. There was a wonderful depth to the air with the big flakes falling. New Jersey disappeared, Manhattan was shrouded, Governor’s Island just a faint silhouette. A male Gadwall (Anas strepera), above, and a male Black Duck (Anas rubripes), below, preened in the snowfall. The feathers of both reward close study.One knee-high pile of older snow, plowed into a corner, was quite fissured. From within these fissures there gleamed these delicious hints of blue. I stood staring into that color for the longest time, until my black jeans and black coat were splattered with flakes like paint. (Almost everyone else in the park with me was running; no sense in hurrying to that finishing line, I aways say.)My camera’s “vivid” feature is turned on here to try to capture this color, and manages to “read” the whole pile in a blue shift.
Glaciers — hark ye, children, when you’re old there will be few if any around — are made of ice compacted from snow. This is dense stuff, not like an especially large ice cube. The other colors of the spectrum are absorbed by this kind of ice. Only blue… escapes. Now, this little insignificant pile was obviously no glacier, yet it still gleamed with the beginning of that startling color. Here’s a bit of that blue, on an overcast day, in Jökulsárlón, Iceland.No filtering here, btw.
Flaubert wrote, Steegmuller translated, “Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.” I feel the same about describing and/or capturing color. I’ll call this American Robin (Turdus migratorius) burnt orange, but that’s not nearly enough.
The world is far from monochrome on a snowy day. Note the bill, stained with Sumac.