The calm monochrome that follows the feast days

an abandoned sidewalk xmas tree— set out to the street before xmas fully dressed (b&w photo)

These days following the winter feasts bring a quiet with them, not necessarily unwelcome. Often grey and a little lonely, or too-quiet for some, yet there is a gentleness to them that eases the emotional tumult forced by the calendar shift into a new year.

the giant pine in the yard upstate, blocking snowfall on the yard liek an umbrella (b&w photo)

When I was younger, I longed for the new year to turn at Springtide, or during the full heat of Summer. As I’ve got older, the shift has felt more accustomed and proper happening in the dead of winter— it allows a moment, at least, for reflection which those other times wouldn’t afford.

Several pine trees upstate in snowfall (b&w photo)

(I’ll own, this is clearly the result of living one’s entire life in the northern hemisphere, in the west. Nurture and nature have their sway.)

Upstate at the Farm over the winter holiday is something I’d not trade. Cold, and snowy, I can see the sun and shade of summer in every angle— but those white cloaked fields are equal in my mind to their mild counterparts. Some of my best memories are of being alone in a quiet icicled clearing in the woods; or frigid rides along field paths as snow-blanketed as the horse’s backs, and my eyelashes— in awe of the change a bit of weather can make.

Sure, we get more irritable in the cabin-fever months. But also we get closer, cozier, if allowed. Weather does change things. It’s one of the things my cold-climate friends and I always joked about— nothing akin to Russian novels ever comes out of easy climates!

the house at the Farm, blanketed in easy snow (b&w photo)

We complain, yet we can’t rightly imagine life without seasons. Or we try, and give it up for folly. Relegate easy to vacation times, to the fleeting (and also irritating but in different ways) Summer. It all balances out in ways we’ve grown accustomed to; in ways that make sense to us.

telephone pole and wires in snow (b&w photo)

Anyway, I rather enjoy and look forward to the quiet spell after the hectic holiday time —before it turns into the doldrums— at which point I’ll want winter to go. There’s a period during which it’s welcome and agreeable; and productive, honestly.

Eventually, of course, the grey just becomes too much, and all we want is the return of green trees and sunshine. That’ll be hitting us around mid-February, I suspect, when the whole city has lost its luster; after the fairy-lights’ve been long taken down, and all the world just feels like it’s given up.

But, just as we reach our wit’s end, some modest glorious crocus will raise her chilly new petals from the snow, and give a beacon of spring, a bit of hope to see us through.

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Day twelve: A preview of Winter when the first wind arrived, bringing leaves down

drawing of a snow globe with trees

Day twelve: They felt a preview of Winter when the first wind arrived, bringing leaves down. Seasons no longer followed the rules they’d known all their lives.

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Winter itself is exhausted; kicks and screams against its scheduled retreat nonetheless

ink drawing of a sick thing on the rocks

I think the original title of this was A sick thing upon the rocks in the very early morning. It’s from when I was a teenager in college. (I think the sketch that precipitated this ink drawing originated during an acid trip; that coming down feeling—)

As I see it now, looking through the archive, it looks to me like a personification of the tail end of winter. Fighting in vain against the sun; unwilling to exit stage left; refusing to retreat for its Persephone months—

Those during which she must return to where she’d been abducted. By absent-mindedly eating the pomegranate seeds proffered by Hades, she doomed herself to a third the year in the underworld, thereby depriving the surface of the world of green things growing during her absence.

That is Winter, which doesn’t like to take its leave quietly, gracefully.

.   .   .

(TBH, the way I wrote the title of this post reminds me of nothing so much as the GOP, but that’s a different sort of post altogether.)

Circling back to that red oak tree on the farm, amid snowfall

Beyond the Red Oak v6 from Elizabeth Daggar on Vimeo.

I haven’t had time the past two weeks to get much farther with this, but I’m hoping to get back to it on the weekend. Here’s where I left off in my motion tests and atmospheric meanderings.

a jaunty little row of art nouveau trees

pencil drawing of yet more trees, stylized and simpleOn offer today: a pencil drawing of yet more winter trees, stylized and simple.

A small woods, cloaked in the lonesome air of winter

A Snow Story [in progress] from Elizabeth Daggar on Vimeo.

Here are the bare beginnings. (And more Ravel, as it happens.) For context, see this post and this post.

This winter has conspired to plant seeds for a story

pencil drawing of a forest

I’ve embarked on a project that has decided it wants to be something much larger than I’d planned, which is awfully exciting (to me). What began yesterday as just a few drawings of trees and birds to layer into another snowscape has planted the seeds of a short film, a proper story. The spark has been lighted and no going back!

These are two stills from the scene I worked on today using yesterday’s drawings. I’ll share a sneak peek at some motion soon.

pencil drawing of a forest

It is quiet, and all the city’s a snow globe this bright morning

I’ve been given a snow day from work on account of this storm (referred to by meteorologists as a Bombogenesis, Bomb Cylone, and Winter Storm Greyson). It has settled in Brooklyn in the form of a persistent and blanketing snowfall out the window all morning, and not a soul around.

It inspired me to make this little animation from my ink drawings back in October. And now I’ll try to get some work done.

The book featuring these and other drawings can be found at Lulu.com.

The music is Autumn in New York, by the Bill Charlap Trio. So good.

Within an hour of waking, the sun has gladdened the windowpanes

ink sketch of a fence and field, trees in the distance

I stayed home last night; missed several parties, missed toasting with friends who I’ve not seen enough of. A head cold has been slinking ‘round the door for a few days (probably a few weeks), and by Midnight it’d overtaken me. I didn’t have any the past two winters, but I’ve been burning candles at both ends lately, so I can’t be too surprised or upset.

Despite feeling poorly, it’s not a bad thing to cross the threshold of a new year quietly and in solitude. I did this little drawing to mark the changing of the guard. (I added the snow on a whim, though clearly those aren’t winter trees, all clad in leaves.)

I’d hoped for a cold-bright wander on New Year’s Day, but that’ll have to wait for better health. Glad tidings, with a few sniffles! I’ll see what I can make of it. More drawing, whether for me or my freelance project, will make a fine start of things for 2018.

Our hopes such as they are, invisible before us, untouched and still possible*

black and white photograph of sun coming through tree branches

Returned from the snow farm for the last few days of the year’s closing book. Serene here, too— quiet and white-blanketed. Few people are on the sidewalks, chilled and brittle. The emptiness of the playground today: a witness to the mercury, its height diminished despite bright sun.

And here we meet our fabricated bookends for time, believing we can hold or control it; we note it and name it to preserve the illusion. All is change, even the end of things, like the dying year to be replaced or born anew this midnight. Supplanted by new hopes, optimism in the dark corner of the year. Rebirth, Springtide: a crocus fighting her way up through a crust of snow.

Her bloom and demise are written in the maths that make her. Only we personify it, make a mirror of her. We with our imagined souls are infinitely fragile. So we make of her a beacon.

We’ll wait for her in the darkness yet to come. We’ll look for her as we burn through the woodpile, stacked under the eaves last fall. And as we watch the icicles melt, painting the days toothless, mild, and green again.

black and white photograph of a farm house in a snowy fieldblack and white photograph of a barn an silo on a snowy hillblack and white photograph of a large oak branch and a silo on a hill in the distance

*from the poem ”To the New Year” by W. S. Merwin