Eclectic - from social documentary to "painterly" and abstracted pictures.
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Tag Archives: snow
Clouds like nymphs fleeting heavenward.
High above in childish fantasy,
Pictures melting, fast deserting
Loosing glory, gaining solitude.
Bursting forth as living water.
Sometimes grey, looming ominous.
Coloured scarlet by dying embers.
Broken by light, blue beyond.
Where are they going, or coming from?
Written Summer 1967
Last weekend I was at the ICEHOTEL, just outside Kiruna, Sweden. It’s about 200km north of the Artic Circle, which makes it Lapland. Approaching from the south, the land looked cold even before he touched down. Reminded me of a song by Billy Joel.
“… we were strapped against those Scandinavian skies
The landing gear came down and touched the Swedish ground
And we were all so paralyzed”
For once, passengers took their time leaving the plane, to be sure their coats were fastened, and that fingers wouldn’t freeze so they could take happy snaps of the last hour of the sun.
It was cold. But then when something is planned for and anticipated, it feels good. Warm coats. Thermals. Lingonberry juice. Everyone tried to be nonchalant, like they had done this a thousand times. But no one quite knew what to make of the parking signs outside for the huskies and their sleds. Locals looked bemused.
As in all hotels, one constant is the bar, the centre of conversation and amusement. This one was no different, though it had a million glasses made of ice.
“Would you like to keep yours, sir?”
Warm lips created soft indentations, and the light sparkled on a myriad bubbles, both in the liquid and in the ice. Bubbles everywhere.
At each turn, artists created their visions in ice. Some stark, some complex. Most magical. And all thought provoking.
“Eternity”. A frozen couple, standing together, staring into the near distance. Guardians of ideas and hopes. Standing at the foot of a bed of ice.
Every year huge blocks of pure ice are taken from the Torne River. A building is created. Art inspired. Glasses used. Beds made. An ice church welcomes all faiths, and vows are exchanged. And every year it all slides gracefully back from where it came. The ultimate “eco-hotel”.
Much inspiration. Very hard to capture, despite the technology everyone brings. Nikon, iPhone. Somehow the ice decides its own brand, how it will shine, what colour it will be. Thousands of images. All fleeting. Like some grand impressionist attempt to define the cycle just fails, because nature itself is in charge, not the artist.
However there is nothing uncertain about sleeping on a bed of ice. It’s real. And it does tend to focus the mind. Why did we do it? I guess because somehow it had always seen a challenge, something unusual.
“Come to the desk when you are ready. Just wear your thermals (and boots of course) – and get your sleeping bag. Run like hell and get tucked in! Don’t worry, it’s a constant -5C, so it can’t get as cold as outside. And we have alarms installed. We don’t want anyone to drown if there is a fire.”
We were hoping to see the Aurora, and we learnt how to chase it on snowmobiles. But freezing fog made that impossible. The clouds were not quite ready to drop yet another load of snow. Nor were they keen to leave. Instead they swooped low onto the land, to be sure everyone knew who really was in charge.
Other times the clouds gave moments of magic. Blue. Wispy clouds. Sunset and sunrise. But not now. Not when we were searching for the Lights.
I reflected, remembering past poetry, past events. Past vistas. It seemed that the clouds were defining everything, not the ice. The artists could work with the ice. It was solid and had clarity of view and purpose. But no one could work with the clouds. They were imperious.
The clouds decided what colours he saw. How much we saw. What we felt. Whether we were warm or cold, grumpy or happy. And the clouds were the mother and father of all we saw. They created the water that froze. They hid the landscape. They pampered the trees.
And they changed at will. Whenever they wished. However they chose.
“Happiness is like a cloud. If you stare at it long enough, it evaporates.”
Tall and straight with vestal eye.
Sunset embodied in life eternal,
Golden charm of folded petal.
Coloured scarlet with flaming torch.
Virgin purity of snowy white,
Or rainbow hues of any in nature.
Short and bushy in green confusion.
Often chosen with ecstatic movement,
Showing love, cherished enchantment,
But creature of death to people fallen.
This we ask of a solitary flower
Which we ourselves can never reach.
Written Summer 1967
It’s snowing out there. And, this being the UK, a national disaster is being declared. We read that 11 inches of snow fell on Moscow last night, and almost 200 people have died in that country because of extreme cold. “Snowpocalypse” the Moscow press are calling it.
Yet the M4 gets closed down with an inch of snow. People pretend they can’t get to work, and show themselves in snowball fights on Facebook. And then they wonder why their management get annoyed.
Some years back, I took a picture of a Rose, ignoring the odds and poking its tongue out at the heaviest frost of the year.
It became one of my most viewed images on flickr.
In 1967 I also wrote a poem about a rose. Looking back, it’s too complex and wordy – but it is a poem of its time. It’s how I felt, and it was of course heavily influenced by the sights, sounds and social upheaval of the “Summer of Love”.
It was the year that the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Who and many other bands tried to out-innovate the Beatles.
Which was an impossible task.
John, Paul, George and Ringo were demonstrating what a “high performance team” is. Extraordinary achievements followed with quickening momentum, and every member of the band contributed in a unique way – the smoke and the acid flowed like water untroubled by small pebbles. They were leaving the others behind.
“High Performance Team: A small group of people so committed to something larger than themselves that they will not be denied”
Katzenbach, J and Smith, D (1993), The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the high-performance organization.
“I am a Walrus”, sang the man in that high-performance team.
“Sitting in an english garden waiting for the sun.
If the sun don’t come, you get a tan
From standing in the english rain.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob goo goo g’joob”.
Was the Rose sitting in the garden, waiting for the sun? Or was the Rose in a team with the rain?
The Rose was both part of the whole and yet totally alone.
The picture doesn’t work without the background, and the Rose could not survive without the help of the sun, piercing the frost. Yet the Rose was standing tall, doing what it does best. It was not just surviving – it prospered.
And it made the garden and its world a happier place.
By being together alone.
“We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others”.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Funny how a little snow fall gets so much attention in Britain. But it is pretty …
Amazing light behind Woodlands this evening.
HDR from 5 exposures
Nikon D2X 80-200mm lens
ISO 400 .. 1/60 @F3.8 – 1/250@F7.6
Processed in Lightroom & Photoshop