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Delft Days: The Aesthetic Workout

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The start of last night's run. This is the only road we can use right now. The main road is too busy and dangerous with snow taking up the shoulders, and the dirt roads like ours are still covered with ice. Talk about dangerous.

I'm thankful for this road, every day. It's been my best friend this winter.

I haven't juiced these photos up at all. They are what I saw. LOOK at the shadowblues!!

My dear friend Hodge, who takes me around Cambridge when I'm there, showing me the most wonderful things, wrote a post on her blog, hereswhatiknowsofar, about the blue and the white.  She hadn't yet seen "Mood Indigo," Tuesday's post. We're just in tune, that's all. We notice the same things.

This synergy between dear friends who live ten hours apart by car inspired me to go look for some more blue and white on a beautiful 34-degree evening. Which was just Wednesday evening. Blue sky, which you see a lot in Cambridge ourfaircity MA, is so very rare here in the mid Ohio Valley winter. I treasure it, for winter blues are singular blues. And these blues help me fight those blues. You know the ones.

I took Phoebe and Chet along. Liam has an iffy throat and a sore neck and wanted to rest instead.

It makes me so happy to run with my kids. I can't go out with them without wondering what I'll do when they leave. I wish I could stop wondering that. Dang it.

Running "with" my kids is a misnomer. Phoebe soon left me in the dust, or more properly the grit. Chet likes to run faster, so he went with her. She picked him up every time a car passed. We do that when the snow eats up our road shoulders. Sometimes I do it just to give him a kiss on the brisket. He waits to be picked up, gives a little lurch up into my arms to help.

The more blue and white I saw, the farther behind I fell. "How do you get anything DONE?" Phoebe, my lithe greyhound, asked. "Well, I consider my runs an aesthetic as well as a physical workout. Stopping is part of that."

Which may be why I feel like so much donut batter poured into my clothes right now. I hate being sidelined, but I have to wait until I have asphalt to run on. It's been a long wait. 

I very much appreciate the fact that Phoebe doesn't make fun of me when I swoon over scenes like this. She does, too. But sometimes when Liam's along the temptation is too great and they laugh at me. That's OK. So many folks drive right by scenes like these without stopping to notice, that I figure I have to swoon hard enough for everybody. 

My favorite lane. Oh my gosh. The corduroy mud, the color harmony with the tree and shed. I almost wept. Just leave me here, looking at all this, the blue, the white, the violet, the russet mud. That little combed cloudlet. 

I always find these trees so graceful, the way they lean toward the road and then correct themselves. Oh, excuse me. I'm not supposed to occlude the road. Maybe it's because they've been trimmed back again and again over the years. Or maybe they just know. But they're all doing this little samba, and the snow points it up.

I see my favorite sassafras peeking between them. She always looks like she's waving her wooden hands, hoping to be noticed. 

No worries, cold Sassy. I notice. But for years, I didn't notice her. I've been tending a bluebird box just downslope from her for probably 18 years, and I never noticed this tree until this winter. And now she's a destination for me. I guess I had to come here a few dozen times before it sank in on me how beautiful she is. Before I wondered what she was and walked up the haymeadow to see. Before I started noticing how she shows in every kind of light and weather.

Chet goes snoopin' around the barn foundation 

while Phoebe and I ogle the first calf of spring. So tiny. Hang in there, little Bully. It's supposed to warm up this week. 

You can see the tiny calf in the background. 

We chug toward the car, parked a little more than a mile and a half away. The whole run is a little over 3 miles.

And it all looks different on the way back, as the sun sinks. Swooning again at the pewter sky and the frosted wheat biscuits, the swoop of the guardrail, the delta of clouds, the plunge of the treeline. If there's anything better for one's compositional sense than iPhone photography, I've yet to find it. My compositional muscles are now much firmer than my thighs. I hope to correct that by summer.

Blue on white, Delft days, the aesthetic workout. Hodge, this one's for you. A blue Valentine to my Cambridge muse.


Thank you so much for showing the beauty that is in the world. Too many are all too willing to expend their energy on what is wrong in the world, or on ugliness. You get what you concentrate upon. Your blogs have brought so much positivity into my days. I can now sit here with a blizzard going on outside my window and marvel at all the wonderful things in my life instead of angsting about how I'll be unable to go anywhere for a few days. Believe me, that was not the case a couple years ago. No, you didn't do this alone, but you have been a contributing factor. The world would be a much happier place if more people concentrated on the good and the beautiful around them. (Giving up watching cable news would be a good start!)

Posted by Anonymous February 13, 2014 at 4:25 AM

So beautiful! Thank you. As we are again in the midst of a snowstorm here today (expecting up to 12 more inches, with that much already on the ground) my mantra is "It's so pretty!" But it truly is, so I loved seeing your photos. The calf is precious, too. Growing up on a dairy farm, I love me some cows and calves! :-) By the way, I just posted about winter trees on my blog, too! I'm going now to check out Hodge's post. Thanks Julie!

I swoon with you. Thanks so much for putting it into words. I think I swoon more as I get older and now sometimes when I'm driving - maybe not the best time but my soul jumps nonetheless.

Posted by vpletcher February 13, 2014 at 7:06 AM

I swoon with you. Thanks so much for putting it into words. I think I swoon more as I get older and now sometimes when I'm driving - maybe not the best time but my soul jumps nonetheless.

Posted by vpletcher February 13, 2014 at 7:06 AM

Oh, you inspire me . . . with your photography, your insights, your relationship with your kids, your commitment to exercise!

Swoon on. Your photographs and writing inspire.

Terrific! If the dog didn't push me to walk to the park everyday, I'd miss so many lovely scenes--including the delft scenes you spoke about here. Keep noticing things, Julie. It's the most important thing.

Fresh blue above, long cold blue below, simply stunning. Esp. like the hay biscuits picture. Thank you!

The whole earth beneath the snow beneath your feet, resting and getting ready to burst into spring. It is wonderful that you go out with your kids into this blue sky of beauty and run. A healthy embrace of the moment.

You're sweet. Will you be my valentine?

Keep an eye out for cookies...

xxoxo hodge

Posted by KH Macomber February 14, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Your descriptions of blue and white snow wouldn't go away and I had to post some blue and white snow of my own on my blog. I also see the shadows and colors on the snow. I love to not forget to stop and see beauty.
Also, thanks for sharing so much with your readers.

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