Saturday, February 13, 2010

palate of a Massachusetts February

I’m sitting looking out the window of the train on the Fitchburg/South Acton line, retracing in reverse the path of the famed Minutemen, the ride of Paul Revere, from Concord through Lincoln and Bedford in to Cambridge and then Boston.

Rolling by me are the colors of the landscape of my home at its most dormant: flat, muted, though not pastel. Predominately grey, though myriad greys. The flat grey sky, only blue in the imagination or when seen in the reflection of the unruffled, frigid water. The grey of tree trunks, not brown, but purples and ash and charcoal and slate, all the color of dead wood, faded weathered timber. The smooth kahki of mown fields with whorls of low hedgerows like tousled salty hair in sleep. Dried grasses the color of my skin. Frozen, bedraggled white pines not white in color but matte dark green. The white snow, grey now on some of its edges, grey from translucence or grime, the white snow marking out paths of footprints or whole slicing paths through the woods, only remaining where it was compressed, the rest now melted to leave these maps of travel. The shrivelled oak leaves, a strangely luminous peachy tan, still on some branches despite all the months of winter winds. Spindly maroon and violet shrub stalks. Tiny, unnoticeable red berries. Washed-out light sage green lichens and emerald mosses on impenetrably grey rock, mottled tan rock, unassuming sienna rock, dull pinkish rock. Through it all, the flat light of the invisible grey-white sun, and the invisible but ever-frigid wind. As it is now, a very restrained, understated, conservative, brittle landscape.

Later, as we come into the city, a new grey: the grim concrete, the faded pavement. And new colors, mostly muted pink brick, ferrous weeping rust, weakly putty-colored houses. Repetitive new construction making me want again and again to research new synonyms for “taupe”. Faded yellow caution and construction, sometimes old crayon blue instead. Lethargic blacks and browns of drooping fences and trash cans, pine green utility boxes supposed to fade into the landscape but the landscape is asphault and grey. Occasional glints of silvered metal. Even the graffitis and litter and cars stay within this palate.

A fitting and restful palate for my quietude, my hermitage, my exhaustion and fragility of cultural adjustment.

(P.S. I'm literally writing this while riding on the train. Thank you, MBTA, for your free commuter-rail wireless internet access! The wonders of modern technology never cease to amaze me.)

1 comment:

MJK said...

E, you are making me miss even that dreary Massachusetts winter... sigh...