An artist's running diary: Winter Light

An artist's running diary: Winter Light

by Charles Harris
article from Friday 13, January, 2017

YESTERDAY there were a number of short snow showers which arrived on a strong North Westerly wind. They were thick with snow at times, but the broken sky returned to blue quite quickly and the snow melted immediately. Visually, it was all a chaos of light and dark or cold grays.

Today in dazzling difference, my day began with bright light when I took my morning run. There was also a hint of warmth in the still air too but was soon lost in the chill rising from the snow. For overnight that same wind had finally brought settling snow, which covered the fields and my lawns with two or three inches of brilliant white.

Now outside this winter light was striking and new. Away In the far distance, I watched that line of Fife hills showing a fine pale blue, under some thin creamy cloud, in an otherwise perfect clean sky. Whilst nearby, out of this light, most local dark colours by contrast, seemed strong almost black, especially in places along the garden wall, in the hedges and in the trees. Near and far I noticed everything vertical was also creating marvelous vivid and violet blue shadows. They inevitably seemed so much colder than the bright white snow, which was lit by soft complimentary yellow sunlight. It was delightful to view, a beautiful temperature exercise of nature. 

While as I ran, I also enjoyed in detail, how light reflecting off this snow made local colours seem much brighter too. The green in ever-green bushes down the road glistened a rich intense viridian and elsewhere dead leaves, left high in almost empty trees, appeared orange rather than a dark lost autumn brown. It was all a treat to view, where previous dull scenes became places of magic in sparkling happy transformation. 

My route downhill was tricky today, with patches of ice showing where the snow had been blown thin by yesterday's wild winds. While the snow surface itself, between early tyre tracks, crunched loudly offering uncertainty as I passed. Then surprisingly, another treat awaited me. For that extended avenue of oak trees beside the small road to the village, now stood ahead brightly, like a long line of chefs with white aprrons, all standing to attention and facing North in different sizes. And the road itself, after early use, was still glowing white in-between. It is bordered on both sides with grass and under those trees, these grasses had uncovered tops displaying green and orange in a melee of brightness; and where I then watched with pleasure, a fat red Robin pecking away at uncovered leaves, while a single pigeon flew away flapping in the quiet air, as I ran padding along.

This morning I also managed to run slowly through the village for the first time in an age and turned at the next farmhouse on the roadside. On the way back I paused several times to walk, then finally stopped at the bottom of the hill with an excuse to examine my footprints which had caught my eye. In the thin snow coming down the hill, I did notice my right foot impression was one-sided, with an overall lighter indentation than the left foot, showing I was still favouring my right foot. Yet I went further today and experienced no pain, so I was very pleased.

Up at the house, the sun unfortunately sunk into new streaks of larger cloud, turning the magic of today's new light into a dull range of gray colours. Yet happily it had been a pleasure to run today and the best result so far this year.

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