Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Story: Hues in Grey by Bruce Mero

Photo taken in our woods of birch on a clear sunny day, 
not enough snow in this photo for skiing 
but you get the drift, pun intended!

Linking up to From High In The Sky who hosts a Sunday story on the first Sunday of every month!

Hues in gray
by Bruce H. Mero
          Several hours of light rain yesterday and freezing temperatures overnight had crusted the snow. A thin coat of ice powder had since fallen. The day was overcast and gray. The usual frenzy of activity at the bird feeder was missing and only a solitary Mourning Dove watched as we stepped into the ski bindings and started for the back fields. Our progress was slow. The snow surface broke into shards under the weight of our skis, the crusty edges tearing at the skis and the bails on the ski poles. Ski tips, not carefully placed on top of the crust, dug under and stopped. We were too heavy to stay on top of the snow. Gliding was not possible. A method akin to walking with snowshoes was adopted for breaking trail and we were on our way, albeit slowly.

          The cloud color was repeated on the snow and in the trees. The evergreens were a sullen gray green. There were no shadows. The surface of the snow was singular. Only the gray black of sapling trunks and dusky brown of last year's weeds interrupted the undulating snow. There were no animal tracks. Nothing had ventured out upon the snow make an impression in the fresh powder. The remains of a Birch catkin, likely torn apart for its seeds by a chickadee, signaled the presence of recent activity. Then, atop the snow, great quantities of shredded wood, the work of a Pileated Woodpecker searching the heart of a dead Sugar Maple skeleton for breakfast. The holes mined in the soft wood were rectangular and deep, the yellow chips of wood on the snow a stark contrast to the monotones of grays and first color we had seen this day. A Blue Jay fled our approach, his screams of alarm and flash of blue, discordant and detached. 

          Quiet returned, but the vivid blue of the Jay had altered the grays and fresh hues began to appear. The red twigs of the soft Maple stood out at first, the thinnest of them finely frosted with the luminescent glaze of yesterday’s frozen rain. Burgundy ice goblets of Chokecherry berries hung in threes and fours and the miniature candy apples of Cranberry Viburnum hung in iced clusters. On the trunks and branches of Ash trees grew great colonies of Lichen in overlapping silver and green saucers. In a protected rock cranny in the stone fence, a luxurious moss swelled a green that is only found during warmer times. Trembling, transparent amber leaves clung to the Beeches and the dried yellow-brown flowers of Witch Hazel evoked late fall afternoons, while the yellow tips on Sugar Maple branches foretold the sugaring-off season just weeks away.

          There was color all about and finding it hidden in the early morning grays had lifted our spirits. Even the skiing quickened as we returned upon a now broken trail. More colors: the red twigs of Dogwood, the umber of fall’s apples still hanging in the place first visited by May’s honeybees and the green of Christmas Fern from beneath the rusty iridescence of an ancient Hemlock log. The silver tops of the meadow grasses shook as we passed, as did the few remaining silvery Milkweed silks which still hung from the husks of the pods that had protected them since summer.

          The feeders were busy on our return to the barn. The Chick-a-Dees were in and out with their prized sunflower seeds at ten-second intervals. A Downy Woodpecker, with his miniature red cap, sat at a perch on one of the feeders and sent chips of corn and millet seeds flying over its shoulder to the waiting birds on the ground as it searched among the seeds for the insect eggs it usually foraged. The Jays scoured the snow beneath the feeders for the cast-off corn the woodpecker had discarded. A Red Squirrel nervously darted between the Jays to steal a few morsels. Several Mourning Doves paced the ground between the others, pecking pieces of edibles off the snow the others had missed. The brilliant scarlet of the male Cardinal briefly scattered the Jays and Doves as he boisterously landed among them and filled his beak with millet seeds and then flew to a hidden perch to crack the hulls and eat his breakfast. All were oblivious to the two humans who had just entered the scene, except the Red Squirrel, who fled to a safe branch and scolded the intruders. 

          The early morning's gray was upon us still, though the gray had been transformed and hidden colors revealed on the wings of a fleeing Blue Jay.


  1. I've just experienced the most wonderfully descriptive morning walk. I don't ski, so I opted out of that, but the trek was superb!

  2. Love the writing. I could feel the stillness descend on me as I was reading.

  3. sounds peaceful and loved the birds. Thanks for sharing.

  4. A wonderfully lyrical contribution to Storytelling Sunday. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for this nice ski trip with you. It was quiet, lyrical, and calming.
    Cheers from France

  6. what a beautifully descriptive tale it sounds so peaceful

  7. A delightful contribution to Sian's Storytelling Sunday. THanks for sharing.

  8. A lovely winter tale - thanks for sharing.


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