The snowpack was exceedingly dry. The snow hardened along the hiking trail was even more so, causing the treads of my boots to crunch emphatically with every step. I had fallen into a rhythmic breathing pattern. Methodically and melodically, I tramped on. Inhale, step, crunch. Exhale, step, crunch. This pattern repeated for the entirety of my walk. The crunch decibel revealed the presence of a human to any wildlife that might have been in the woods.
Still, even without the wildlife, I had company. My trail companions were two enthusiastic Australian Shepherds who had been entertaining each other with a fierce game of hide and seek, first to the right side of the trail, then mad-dashing in front of me to the left side of the trail. This being a lodgepole pine forest, the skinny trunks offered slim hiding opportunities but the pups were free from restrain to be their frolicking dog-selves, covered in snow and blissfully happy.
In general, the color of snow is universally identified as being White. In direct sunlight, this is can be true. But as an artist attended to the nuances of color, I have learned to look at the shadow side of snow or in shaded areas such as this forest floor, where it genuinely appears to be an other-worldly blue hue. I challenge you to look for this color-shift yourself. Snow can also appear purple or even pink, if something is reflected into the shadowed area.
Finally, late in the day, we headed back to the truck. The trail itself had darkened. And so it was that I was hiking along, admiring the variations of wondrous blues with slanting sunbeams filtering through the treetops when the crunching stopped. It stopped because I had stopped.
There in the middle of my path was the equivalent of what looked like a glowing, holy grail. Startling even. A break in the tall tree canopy was the only excuse a setting sun needed to cast a halo effect directly onto a patch of golden, dried grasses.
This scene, rather, this experience, became the painting, “A Winter’s Walk”, inspired by an afternoon hike.