This is one of those pictures that I didn’t get at first. Then suddenly I felt its weight. There is a moment – the space of an unseen line – where freedom is still possible, however precarious, and the choices are right there in front of us. Branches? Or bars?
We spent the afternoon at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, enjoying hands-on projects with the kids and taking in a mini-concert with the Laurels String Quartet. But somehow, with a world of art & activity inside those walls, the photo I ended up with was a look outside. It’s a view of the Minneapolis College of Art & Design or, more to the point, a composition of bricks, windows, and branches. And, while it would seem to be a black & white photograph, it is actually in full color.
In the lush, verdant realities of summer, I forget all about the bare, graceful structures hidden under all that green. Until a little death sweeps in, like a dry branch waving naked in the wind, to steal my attention and remind me, for just a moment, that the circle never stops.
Our back door faces west. This means that I can see the sunset from the kitchen but only if I make a point of it.
The thing about the view out back is that it has the potential to be lovely but only if you’re selective. If you look down, you’ll see a pile of toys, most likely. And any attempt at a wider vista will only be blighted by a motley assemblage of garbage cans, garage tops, and satellite dishes.
But if you look up – at just the right angle – it’s all trees and sky and the clean lines of telephone wires looping us all together as they recede into the distance.
Winter is worn out. I walked to the creek yesterday and saw signs everywhere of the season’s last gasp. The sledding hill was empty, its snowpack well-trodden and soggy from the morning rain, cracked sleds abandoned near the bottom. The frozen creek was like a junkyard full of jagged ice chunks and broken branches, naked ice unprotected by its usual blanket of snow now pockmarked and scarred.
We romanticize signs of spring – grass turning green, birds singing, the smell of a warming breeze – but this scene was more like the field after a battle. It looked as if winter finally gave up the ghost but, then, I didn’t actually see it wave the white flag.