In a Small World

It was ten degrees Fahrenheit this morning, which was warm compared to the mainland, and it was up from zero yesterday.  My intrepid friend Lisa has just come indoors.  She's been outside skiing for hours.

I thought I would go out today and similarly impress you but we just came back to the island yesterday.  We had a snowy, slippery drive from upstate New York - plus, we still have colds.  So I decided to work from my warm house instead.

I took this picture of a milkweed seed pod at the Fish Hatchery in Central Village, Connecticut, and it was in the blog, back in the hard-to-remember-warmth of November.   I have wanted to look at it more closely for some time.










I have been zooming in.  It has been a revealing process.  I've looked closer and closer...and with time,  a different world has impressed itself upon me.

First, I cropped the picture one way and then I cropped it another and couldn't make up my mind, and then I cropped it a little bit more and it seemed like a whole new picture.  I told myself (and this is the only way I could get myself to commit), that I could keep all the versions and show you as many as I wanted. 





It became a game of balance.  I noticed what was interesting and what I didn't see before.  I wondered what the "truth" of this seedpod might be.  How could I demonstrate the significance of its particular life?  Would the best information be in the whole thing altogether or in the intimacy of one small part?









I kept looking... and I actually started to worry a little bit.  I liked this little plant, and it started to bother me that it is out there right now where it's so terribly cold. 

Then I thought about the seeds... I was there when they opened and went everywhere.  So it was easy for me to picture them tucked in each space between the grasses, blanketed in snow. 














Here is the Fish Hatchery the way it is now.  All the plants and grasses are done with everything, stripped of everything, down to their winter forms.  I like it that the seeds are waiting.










And here is picture at the Fish Hatchery after the blizzard last year.  The milkweed pods are mingled in with the grasses at the left of the picture and there are more in the fields beyond the trees in the distance.  I did stomp around in the cold and in three feet of snow to get this picture.  The frozen fog was clearing, and light and color were coming back to the sky and to the land. 

(This is actually a panorama... It's a lot of pictures stitched together.  So I could print this picture very large... the size of a wall.  I can't make it big enough on this page for you to really see it, but if you click on it, it will show up in its own box and it will be a little bit bigger.)

By the way, you might like to know that the first thing I did when I got home was fill the bird feeders, and because we have no squirrels on the island, scatter the food on the snow. 

It has been so cold... so ridiculously, bitterly cold... so many storms one after another... so much wind.  Only two birds came last night and I called my friend Edie who is an expert on birds.  I said, "Do you think they're all dead?"  She said, "No, they're just discouraged by the fact you haven't been feeding them while you were away.  They'll be back tomorrow."  And she was right.  They were here today, in force. Healthy and quick.  Hungry and busy.   I really can't imagine how they stay alive out there but I like to think that when I got closer to my picture today I got closer to the way they see the world.