If you want to live and be happy in Western New York, you would do well to learn to love cloudy days, mist, rain, puddles, and mud. It’s not enough to tolerate it. Or even to appreciate it. You must love it, or you will be miserable for much of the year. I nearly skipped my afternoon walk today because of the weather. Oh, what the heck… my jeans are already muddy and what are boots for anyway? When I finally decided to go, I nearly left the camera behind because the sky was so dark with clouds. I’m glad I changed my mind. I upped the ISO a couple of notches and simply looked harder for interesting things to photograph.
I challenged myself to find color, darn it all, on this gray, drab day. It was surprisingly easy, actually. Have you ever noticed the stems of the Red Osier Dogwood shrubs? Sometimes I challenge my students when leading a walk. I’ll stop on the trail and tell them to close their eyes. “What color crayon would you use to make the stems on shrubs?” I’ll ask. The answers vary: “Gray.” “Brown.” “Green.”
“OK, open your eyes…” Whoa… “Next time, why not grab a red crayon?” Which is not to say that brown isn’t a great color. I happen to love all shades of brown… from the lightest shades of tan to the darkest, almost black… The grayish browns – like mud. The orangy browns – like some leaves. I have no idea what this fungus is… But isn’t it an interesting shade of brown?
It was cold. It was misty. It was muddy. When I got home, I had to give the dog a complete bath – not just a quick hose-off. I was a little chilled. But I was restored. I had breathed fresh air. I had heard my birds calling and singing. I had watched my dog run with abandon in complete joy. And I had found color… more appreciated than ever because of the way it contrasted with the rest of the day. It was good.