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Capturing moments of stillness has many faces; in their train, surprises abound and uplift lagging spirits, in this mid-winter afternoon.

Stillness colors washed out grays and browns in January’s shivers; hues of strangeness abound. Hide-strength mud patches glisten in the sun, like used saddles hitched to hooks in stables. Cypress limbs finger shadows upon hand-sized leaves from the nearby London plane tree: everything feels freeze-dried in such moments. Only the sense of smell suggests life decomposing into something other.

Within the stillness of this January freeze, another moment has launched an unfathomable experience, long in the waiting: this very afternoon, an eight-pound baby girl, with brunette hair, was born at home, January 21, 2022. Her first warm breaths initiated parental bonding, filled with fresh colors for mutual growth. Her name is Mary Elizabeth.

Such stillness tickle bells of silent joy. There are no words …

It is cold—very cold—and it’s just beginning.

Somehow that matters little in my warm study when enveloped within Winter Dreams, the subtitle of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor (1866) played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Yuri Temirkanov. The first movement, fragile and effervescent, evokes inchoate scenes of what wasn’t there before: 

Moonlit snow-scapes—wind-startled frozen lakes—flocked mountain pines—brush-filled meadows—gust-sculpted cathedrals—critter-tracks meandering over hills—color-splashes angling down slopes and crisscrossing paths.

Beneath this frozen world, deep smiles thaw my imagination; trickles of water create wiggle-room for my breathing. Like the first morning of creation, Beauty still evokes deep joy and zest for living.

Listening to Winter Dreams plunges us within its critical cycle of brilliance. Color’s own brilliance will return, in time.

This afternoon, it feels slikkery outdoors—well named for its mouse-gray sky emitting misty hiccoughs and leaving droplets: they’re everywhere, if you look for them. They fashion ephemeral designs upon window screens and when engorged, resemble tobogganers careening and zigzagging down mountain trails.

Droplets appear upon tips of denuded shrubs like shy dancers awaiting the cue to go on stage; when swollen with the orchestra’s rhythm they hurtle into the arms of lower branches, until the next letting go, until there is no other.  

Droplets also cling to porch roofs and piggyback others more developed before smacking the pavement below; its pinging jostles the enveloping silence, also slick.

Droplets also cling to holly and red-and-white ribbons that decorate mailboxes, and to outdoor lights that frame the exteriors of houses, giving them a lustrous sheen.

Such slikkery waters depths of dryness like grace: a radical re-wiggling into harmonious change that draws gratitude.

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