I shot these pictures today, 12/25/2012. I have better winter pictures from February 2012, coming soon to a blog scribblement near you, but today I wanted to share pictures taken today.
This has nothing to do with Christmas, but boy-oh-boy if you are into Christmas, in my part of the world the sky and the snow are performing just as Bing Crosby dreamed for on Christmas.
For our nightly walk this most celebrated day of the year, in a brisk thirteen degrees (no problem when walking briskly, unless into a stiff headwind, then you have nose issues, but we were in dense forest cover with NO wind tonight) we had the “perfect storm” of combined crystal-clear sky, moon nearing full, and Jupiter parked a finger’s width from the moon, yet blazing its strong light right through the moon’s white-out drowning of all other stars near it. I wondered what could be so bright? Is there a kid being born by autogenesis in a manger somewhere? Should I pack up some balsam incense and head east?
Since Rudolph’s nose isn’t white, and the light was not moving, I decided to check with StarDate, who told me it was a special presentation of Jupiter. Just the gods playing around in the sky, as ever. Orion was swashing his buckle just below the moon, also standing out against that moon-washed sky of few visible stars.
The timing was great, too. The moon was not far from apex just when we set out for the walk, around 8:10 PM. That makes the light pierce down through the trees with less shadow and more light hitting the snow.
We have a complete snow cover that developed slowly over a period of three days, totaling about four inches accumulation. With temperatures staying low, the snow is staying put, and still sticking in billows to not only the balsam fir boughs, but to the upper surfaces of many maple and beech tree branches that don’t get hit by a lot of wind and/or sun. I love the way it puts a white lining on the branches that are otherwise just sticks all winter (unless glazed in ice).
Tonight is the second time in the past handful of days that we walked under clear sky, and a bright, high, gibbous moon’s light, and solid snow cover. Tonight we are only two days from the full moon, but they expect clouds that night, so we caught the matinée.
The moon’s light is so bright tonight that we easily and enjoyably walked through the woods with my headlamp turned OFF. Even in these dense woods, so much light burst through the trees and back up from the snow that I could see nearly as far through the trees as during the day, and my path lay illumined in that seldom so special light of a pregnant moon on a snow-covered night. However, unlike daylight, the moon colored everything in shades of black and white.
Moonlight is nothing special, right? Happens all the time. Not this kind. Not so high, so bright, with solid snow cover, actually glistening “in the dark.” Yes, glistening, like it does in sunlight. The moon and snow created their own kind of stars.
I had great fun looking up and down and all around at everything from the sky to the ground. Sometimes, a broad patch of many clustered balsam boughs lined with snow seemed like hundreds of moonlit white hands reaching out to me from within the blackness of the inner parts of the trees . I smiled and waved back.
It could be the makings of a fun spooky story to tell … those white hands reaching out for you from within the dark recesses of the dense fir trees. I’d add the wind making odd noises, and cracking coming from trees, something I hear often, especially when it is very cold and there is a lot of wind. Sometimes there’s a loud pop, or a thud.
I’m no fan of horror shows, but now and then a spooky tale is fun. Today while looking for information about the use of green ribbons in promoting causes, I came across an old story I’d never heard before, but many people say online that it haunted their childhood. It is The Green Ribbon (YouTube), about Jenny, who always wore a green ribbon around her neck. The narrator in this YouTube video has the perfect voice and style for this story. I did not realize until the end how good he was at the task. The ending gave me a good laugh. It’s only two and a half minutes. Try it.
Speaking of spooky, I looked for a rendition of the song, Winter Wonderland, to go with this scribblement, and found an odd version done by Annie Lennox. If you’re familiar with her work, you’ll enjoy the parts where she sings her own backup, in her typically haunting style. She inserts some custom stuff in front of the traditional song, but it’s tolerable. She sings the traditional song in the traditional way. I don’t know why she tried to turn it into a love song. Maybe it’s a statement to a certain someone she has in mind. Annie puts it to music in a way that you don’t hear a lot.
Anyhow, I thought I’d post this song video as a little way of celebrating the winter wonderland granted me here at Balsamea, and to honor the grace of the gift of the life I am given here. This scribblement celebrates the beauty, the peace, the fun, and the good news that tomorrow night and through Thursday we’re getting a handful or more inches of snow! Yay again!
One last note: I chose this song because, although it is traditionally a Christmas song, it says nothing of any holiday. It’s a “generic” winter song.
FOOTNOTE: I did not write the following. I’m skeptical about some of the information.
From the “About” section on this YouTube page posted by YouTube channel ChristmasTimeTV:
“Winter Wonderland” is a winter song, popularly treated as a Christmas time pop standard, written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (composer) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). Richard was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. Mr. Smith had written the lyrics while in the West Mountain Sanitarium, being treated for tuberculosis. The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher. This excellent “studio” orchestra included many great New York studio musicians including the legendary Artie Shaw.
Due to its seasonal theme, “Winter Wonderland” is often regarded as a Christmas song in the Northern Hemisphere, although the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. There is a mention of “sleigh-bells”several times, implying that this song refers to the Christmas period. [Really? Bells may be a Christmas tradition, too, but weren't bells a common thing on any sleigh, regardless of the holiday, i.e., just a winter thing, when the sounds of sleigh and horse were muffled by snow?]
The bridge of the song contains the following lyrics:
In the meadow we can build a snowman,
then pretend that he is Parson Brown.
He’ll say “Are You Married?” We’ll say “No man,
but you can do the job when you’re in town!”
In the period when this song was written, parsons (now known as Protestant ministers) often traveled among small rural towns to perform wedding ceremonies for denominational followers who did not have a local minister of their own faith. [They also traveled these "circuits" to preach, not just do weddings.]
The original bridge, about a couple who make a spur-of-the-moment decision to get married, was supposedly considered inappropriate for children. A 1953 version of the sheet music contains the following replacement bridge:
In the meadow we can build a snowman,
and pretend that he’s a circus clown.
We’ll have lots of fun with Mister Snowman,
until the other kiddies knock ‘im down!
When it snows, ain’t it thrillin’?
Tho’ your nose, gets a chillin’
We’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland.
In addition, the fact that (as noted above) the circuit-traveling country Parson trekking from village to village is no longer part of the American cultural scene has also contributed to the circus clown replacing Parson Brown. However, some musicians have performed and even recorded the song with both stanzas – Parson Brown and Circus Clown.