In spring, it wears a hopeful look, not so different from the rest of the world awakening from winter slumbers. The kindness of new life, slight and nascent, has the same optimistic feel whether in a well-tended garden or embracing a marker that tilts disconsolately in a cold field.
But then summer brings with it a cruel vitality that speeds the rate of decay with every thriving leaf and limb. Each burgeoning bit of flora, hastening the decrepitude of the place.
When autumn days shorten, they slow time and kindly paint the field in warm sepia and earthy tones of umber and ocher. Though still there is the look of abandonment, it is a look more in keeping with its somber station.
Though I have driven past this place uncountable times, not once have I stopped to take more than a passing look. But today it called and I could not turn my back. I grabbed my camera and began a slow perambulation of the fields, taking pictures as I went.
What a different look the place wears in snow! All the edges smoothed and the ground evened out, only the smallest glimpses of collapse and erosion. And the brilliant glint and glitter of sun on crystal hint at the beauty lost beneath the surface.
As I walked a circuit of the place, I thought about the lives that had been and the lives that continue and about the unfathomable dimensions of time and space, but the cold was so bitter, it kept me firmly tethered to my body at my camera hand. I gained no wisdom, no serenity, only the bracing air in my lungs and the brilliant clarity of sun shining on snow.
When I had, at long last, circled back around to where I had started, the dry, cold gusts blowing snow across the fields had obliterated any trace of my passing. No prints remained to show where I’d begun, yet when I looked behind me, there was the evidence. I HAD been there.