Picture
Snow capped wildflowers
Before the beauties of winter give way to spring’s slow unfolding, I want to sing their praises.  Twice this February we have witnessed snowfalls in which the snow fell lightly on every surface available.  Light but sticky, clinging to the upside of branches, dried grass and flowers, fences, wires, signs and roof contours.  Nothing was left untouched—unaccented.  The drooping rung of a fence line, the cracked tree lying on the ground, the pens of livestock and the outlines of last year’s gardens demanded my attention on the ride to town.  How much I miss when houses and stands of trees have no such highlighting and they meld into sameness.  With their snowy capes I see the usual as extraordinary.

On my early morning walk with the dog, I notice how close the woods have become.  A visual artist would know that white accents bring objects into sharper focus giving the illusion that they are closer than they are.  But my art is with words.  How do I explain this phenomenon in my memoir class for mature writers?  Detail, detail, detail.  Every shred of detail paints a picture for the reader; without it the scene is unremarkable, something easily overlooked.  Sometimes I say, “Color your story so that it comes alive.”  I go so far as to urge--put cloths on your characters, even if you don’t remember what they wore that day.  Just like the woods I pass each morning, full of indistinct tree trunks and branches, until the snow reminds me of all their curves and contours--nouns and verbs and their modifiers can reveal so much more than a general category of things or motions.

Right now the landscape is pretty still. The delicate white pines that I see from my window sway in a light breeze.  A few stalks of last year’s grasses poke through the covering of snow.  Most of those snowy accents have disappeared but the memory of the things they helped me see, remains.  That will hold me until those first spring beauties and jack-in-the-pulpit push up in the woods, the fattening buds change the size of branches and the soil brings forth colorful, moving grasses and flowers, all vying for my attention.