Can we do this, too — transform our transient stream of thoughts, worries, and hopes into something else, like frost transforms water into ice?
How do we begin? How do we get ready for it like water always is?
In Adalbert Stifter’s Rock Crystal (quotes below in the translation by Marianne Moore) the two siblings Sanna and Conrad get lost on a vast glacier in a snow storm on their way home in the Alps. Frost has transformed the landscape, and is transforming the children, too, to the absolute essential.
The boy maintains hope, despite evident hopelessness, and his little sister maintains trust.
At last they came to a tract with not a tree on it. “I don’t see any trees,” said Sanna. “Perhaps the road is so wide we can’t see them because of the snow,” said the lad. “Yes, Conrad,” said the little one.
“Sanna, we cannot go over there,” said the lad. “No,” said the little one. “We shall just turn around and get down somewhere else.” “Yes, Conrad.”
These dialogues continue like this, while the children spend the night on the mountain in the ice. Conrad and Sanna are becoming ice, too, Conrad refracting reality and Sanna reflecting it back to him.
Frost is usually an unpleasant experience for us, but I take the arrival of a much needed cold front here as an opportunity to look at its benefits.
There is for instance hibernation — and I don’t mean some form of revocable death, but a state of reduced activity of body and soul. Reportedly, bacteria in Antarctica have not only survived hundred of thousands of years in the ice, but stayed active repairing their DNA during the entire time.
100 Years of Solitude are nothing compared to this, and one year of covid should also be survivable, in proper hibernation.
The contemplation of beauty in the frozen landscape has become my personal way of hibernation these days.
Two Lakes Trail is a 13 mile loop in Southern Indiana that took me 6 hours to hike today.
I met not a single soul on the entire trail, leaving plenty of time to think about place, time, and consistency. Now that winter is almost here, colors are not as vibrant anymore, and I like the distance this creates. It allows a strong focus.
I also like the concept of a loop, as a design pattern, a way to return to oneself, remaining consistent, but still transformed.
We are familiar with transformation through time (I can still feel my sore muscles). The transformation through space is more subtle, it requires to inhabit a place, and the only way to do this is through consistency.
While horizontally distanced, let’s use the freed time for a contemplation of the vertical.
The first two sets from today are, as so often, taken at the DePauw Nature Park.
I have arranged the 1×3 pictures in triptychs to further emphasize their narrowness by framing the depth of the center piece with contrasting walls. I find the effect disconcerting in a positive way, maybe because the obvious path is not necessarily the only path.
This last one is from my other favorite place here, New Harmony.