Slice of Life.
On Sunday, in the stillness of a windless afternoon, under heavy grey skies, gigantic wet flakes like confetti fell straight to the ground.
Whenever it snows, I like to look at the trees and rooftops from our second story hallway dormer window, facing north. This weekend I read excerpts from Charles Burchfield’s journals, and as I looked out the dormer window, I thought of his words–
“Nov 2, 1917 – A cool grey morning – houses have a far away look”
“Nov 8, 1917 – On the walk to work – house roofs in shadow are purple
while sky is watery cerulean – Sunlit houses of whatever local color are lighter than sky”
Around 10 AM this morning I received a text from my daughter (whose backyard joins my backyard).
* * *
Every family has its own special stories that with a word, a phrase, everyone chuckles. Well, “partially brown snowman” is one of ours.
When my husband was young, he heard the song “Winter Wonderland.” You know the one,
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland
The song continues,
Walking in a winter wonderland
In the meadow we can build a snowman
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
Well, that’s where the lyrics didn’t make sense to the little boy. He thought the words were “… pretend that he is partially brown,” and he couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to make a snowman “partially brown.”
* * *
So, I Immediately pulled on my boots, grabbed my coat and iPhone (for the camera), and headed through my backyard to my daughter’s where the kids were putting the finishing touches on their “partially brown” snowman.
After taking some pictures, I went back into my house, but it wasn’t long before I was called out again. This time to my backyard to meet Grandpa and Gramma Snow.
Then before the snow melted, I took a few pictures of winter vying with spring.
Along the backyard walkway and stone wall–
Along our driveway, pink and white–
The crew of six who built three snowmen from a very thin cover of snow.
Tonight, as I pen this slice, the snowmen are shrinking and the snow on the ground is gone. But the weatherman is predicting snow showers for Tuesday and Thursday. Maybe there will be a couple more “partially brown” snowmen this week.
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Love the story about the partially brown snowman. So fun to pass that down through your family and that you knew exactly what the message meant! I was interested in what made you pick the particular author of the journal entries you cited at the beginning. Thanks for sharing your snow slice!
I’m participating in Laura Shovan’s Annual February Poetry Project. This year we are writing ekphrastic poetry. Each day one of the members posts a photo of a piece of art as our “prompt.” Well, Charles Burchfield’s painting “The Tall White Sun” was one of the posts.
Nice! Thanks for letting me know!
Thanks for your response. I just wondered about the significance.
My musician friends used to laugh a lot at the words that people came up with for song lyrics. Your partially brown snowman would give them a good laugh!
Your photos at the top were a perfect match to the journal words. Loved the brown snowman story! Goes to show that background knowledge is so important. Sometimes I wonder how plants can survive when winter comes calling and the plants defy that winter snow.
Love the “partially brown” story. It is amazing what children hear. I also enjoy looking out the window at newly fallen snow. It is a quiet beauty. What I don’t like is being out driving in it. We had an hour plus ride home from church Saturday night – a ride that usually takes 15 minutes. Maybe a future slice.
That is really funny!
Thanks for the smile
Such a nice slice, Alice! I love the “partially brown” snowmen–their origin and their current incarnation. Is the Charles Burchfield you mention the same one who painted “The Tall White Sun”?
Yes, he is. He kept journals for some 40 years, I believe. It is very interesting that he puts his observations down in descriptive words–not just visual descriptions, but also sound descriptions and emotions–along with sketches that are the seeds of his paintings.
Link to some of Burchfield’s journal pages: Burchfield Penney Art Center
A few more journal entries are in Art in America 1945-1970.
What a wonderful slice of life.
Our kids decided to make a snow fort yesterday, they had a short snow ball fight instead.
Happy Snow family building.