Autumn delivers red, orange, yellow, and brown in a stunning display. But in a White Mountain spring it’s all green, but there seem to be a thousand shades of green as new life pulses through the trees and shrubs. Even when it comes to the leaves on similar trees, I find there is a difference at this time of year. Not every birch tree is at the same stage of development. Some are slower in delivering their leaves to the forest and are just beginning to bud, while others are further along and their little flags of mint green are larger. I’ve noticed this especially with the beech leaves. Many are already full. Not in color, but in size. Others, meanwhile, are just barely curling out of their shells and tentatively reaching out to their new world.
In the shady and sun dappled forest, it’s not as easy to see. But once higher up with views out to other mountains or down into the valleys, the variation of greens is dizzying. They are impossible to define.
In looking back at the White Mountain artists of the 1800s, I realize they never captured this phenomenon. They mostly worked from down below and looked up at the mountains, and their paintings seemed to capture full summer, or a bit of fall, some of winter. But not these thousand shades of green.
Yesterday, when Atticus and I were on the ledges looking out, I thought of the dizzying array of greens and how impossible it is to describe. I would imagine they would have been just as impossible to capture on a canvas.
In another two or three weeks, this uniqueness will be camouflaged by a uniform lush, verdant sea. All will be a deep green and we’ll have to wait until late September and the rolling out of the autumn rainbow across the ripples of mountains to see the trees march to their own drummers again.
For now though, we take it all in. The shades, the shapes, the sizes, the wild impossible to capture population of greens. We inhale with eyes wide and are left in wonder.
It’s not unlike looking up at the stars each night. If you get to a place where you can see the sky perfectly, where mankind hasn’t diminished their view with too much light, you lay on your back and there is a tapestry of infinity above. It boggles the mind and forces us to surrender to nature.
I was thinking about this yesterday and last night read again Whitman’s poem, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”.
When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander' d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
I find comfort in knowing not everything can be captured or defined. Not really. It’s often the essence of the big picture which delivers us to wonder and not the definition found in the certainty of the microscopic view.
Oh, and if you are looking for Atticus, he is indeed in the photograph, just not as central to its theme as he usually is. Sometimes, it’s nice to just blend in and become part of the scenery.
|A White Mountain Spring.|