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Monday Photo Meditation: When the Cold Calls the Dance

Early dark means early light, and the day has dawned cold and mostly clear. Even so, feathery clouds span the southern sky from east to west, heralding a change on the wind.

The forecast for snow at midweek has been retracted, for the moment, but the wild creatures remain busy preparing for winter. The feel of the air, crisp but with a hint of something lurking beneath, has galvanized the horses: Our red paint spent part of the morning running outside his stall, tail flared like the clouds overhead.

There will be other visitors soon, perhaps a tardy bear still foraging, or the mountain elk arrived early.

Winter is hard here, and much of autumn with it, but for many of our four-legged and wingéd relations, it’s a time of active engagement with the world and the taking of pleasure in it — the season when the cold calls the dance.

The horses have always known this; they come prepared, after all, clad now in the fluff of their fuzzy winter coats. We see this routinely with changes of weather, as though an internal bolt of lightning has struck their spirits in the place where joy resides. In the weeks leading up to winter, though, what begins as a deep-seated reaction to changed conditions will become a way of life for half the year.

It is this same spirit that seems to animate the giant metal horses standing in the snow up near Picuris: playful, joyous, at ease with the world in spite of, or perhaps because of, the elements. I always think of them as winter horses, although of course they are there in summer, too; such large installations would not be casually moved. Wings captured their image on a cold and cloudy day some dozen or more winters ago, a blanket of clean snow on the ground, skies nearly as white as the earth despite hints of blue showing through here and there.

Winer is hard here, and the whole of it still lies ahead.But there is much that is good to be found in it: a stark elemental beauty, a clean crisp edge to the air, a desire to move in and with the winds. It is warmer here today (slightly too warm, if truth be told, for the time of year) but we can expect this week’s forecast to undergo several changes before it settles — on new snow, or none at all. Despite the inconvenience, we secretly hope for the former. For as the horses and their wilder cousins know, when the cold calls the dance, there is joy in answering.

~ Aji








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