"To see a tree in Winter is to see it for what it really is. A Winter tree is an object so intricate and perplexing that if it hadn't already been decided that Winter trees were plain and boring, we would be spending hours pondering them, staring in astonishment." Vivian Swift
I came upon this field of trees along a ridge in Utah while snow shoeing this past weekend, injury keeping me from my 9 friends swooshing elsewhere, no doubt flying and whooping on their first season tracks. With a tinge of envy, I had booked a "leisurely paced" snowshoe tour due to injury, fitness and altitude.
On so on a Skytop trail, my guide Anya and I were alone. With a pace slow and steady, the sound of our footsteps were muffled by a dense fog and my hard breathing. I searched for white tailed jack rabbits whose tracks taunted me, but who I learned would not come out until dark. Stopping, I kneeled down and poked my camera into snow covered scrub oaks, their knotted limbs creating sculptures. We paused to wonder at white powder, a natural sunscreen, found on Aspen trees, but had no need to scrape in the clouds. I carefully captured images of a few remaining brown oak leaves crystallized in the cold. The moose will eat the last of them over what promises to be a long snowy Utah Winter.
Then these trees appeared! Struck by their orderly starkness against the white snow, their hard edges softened by fog, they seemed a complex, contemplative outdoor art installation. One Vivian Swift would ponder over. And so I stood in its presence awhile, departing in a slow and steady pace, whooping just a little.
Anya and I after our 'outdoor art' tour.