Colors of Winter

I once described winter as a season of minimalist beauty. The absence of deciduous foliage and a white blanket of snow obliterates almost all detail and focuses your eye on the spare, underlying framework of the landscape.

I still believe this to be true, but when I wrote this, I was living in Vermont, reflecting on a recent blizzard. Winter is a different animal in New Mexico, especially in Roswell. It's a mercurial season here, one that can't decide what it wants to be. One day it might be 70 degrees and sunny, for instance, with opaque periwinkle skies and a mischievous breeze tickling your face. The next morning it will be snowing, and that delicate breeze has become a bitter, cantankerous wind that gnaws petulantly at you with its icy, needle-like teeth. The following day, it could be sunny again. It's admittedly a bit maddening.

There is one thing I like about winter here though (aside from the practical benefits of not having to deal with snow, ice, and subzero temperatures very often), and that is the color. Continuing my exploration of the Roswell/New Mexico palette, I've been making color blocks all this winter. As is to be expected, most of the foliage is brown or gray right now. It can even snow here occasionally, dusting everything with a powdery white shawl. Yet not everything is brown; the ground and shrubbery here can vary from gray to yellow, even to a light violet.

On the warmer days, a few brave flowers will peek up between the sidewalk cracks.

And of course, the soils here can range greatly in hue. These were made around Jemez Springs, which is one of the most beautiful drives I've taken here.

Most colorful of all, however, is the sky itself. We've had a fairly overcast winter here, but it's made for some overwhelmingly beautiful sunsets, replete with electric reds, oranges, and purples. The blocks here can't capture that glowing quality, paint is inherently different from light, but it gives you at least a sense of the color saturation.

Winter may be unpredictable, but if you look around you, there is a great deal of beauty to be seen and admired. As we move through spring, however, I delight in the flowers and warmer temperatures.