This is a wonderful time of year in the North, when it's still midwinter and the spring is far away, but the light is growing rapidly, not just in duration but in strength. The last week has been sunny and mild, and the birches that surround our house on Chena Ridge have been glowing in light that is lengthening by more than an hour every ten days.
I have been talking with folks in Juneau this week about a plein-air painting workshop that I will be giving there this summer, so it seemed like a good time to take a break between long bouts of wrestling with complex, layered canvases and do a few small, direct watercolors to celebrate the lengthening days. Tomorrow I'll go back to work on the darker, deeper, larger and more ambitious canvases, but first these small paeans of praise to the returning light.
It's always exciting when the light becomes strong enough, in late January or early February, to once again cast real shadows. The forest floor seems filled with light and color when the bright shadows begin to cut boldly across the snow.
Even the stubble from last year's grain on Creamer's Field looks bright as the sun gets far enough above the horizon to illuminate not just the cold colors in the landscape, but the warm ones as well.