The Forest and The Trees

Yesterday morning started with more snow. Not a lot, just an inch or a bit more – enough to add a little light to this darkening landscape.

Before the day had a chance to warm and disperse those lovely white crystals, I darted out the door and down the road with my camera. Within five minutes, I would arrive back at the Seven Bridges Natural Area, with a chance to recreate that bridge photo, hopefully in a more successful black-and-white.

However, while snow lightly covered our yard, the same was not true just over the hill. See the hill in the photo below? We live just on the other side of it.
no snow

In less than two miles, the bright snow dissipated into bleak damp. Undeterred, I set out in search of the little things. When this is the big picture, you have to focus on the details.
dreary forest

After wandering around the paths, retracing my footsteps from the other day in case there was a shot I’d miss, I hiked back to the pasture beyond the many forks of the Rapid River. There, lacy water drops hung from the reedy branches of naked trees.

I spent an inordinate amount of time photographing tiny upside-down worlds, and then I took a moment just to enjoy the open space before it dissolved back into woods further on. I gathered my belongings, and headed slowly back toward the car. I had already realized that grand landscapes wouldn’t materialize, so I was determined to see the trees for the forest.

And literally, over my right shoulder, I spotted a lovely, gnarly paper birch. These quick-growing trees shoot up, often in bunches, and then topple over when they are just a few inches across, victims of their own success. This group, though, contained a shaggy, lichen-loving grandpa. How glorious!

While documenting the old man’s wonderous charm, I ruminated on the application of the lesson to my life. Often, we’re told to take a step back, and look at the big picture. I think we sometimes need to zoom in, though, and look at the little things. Like the fact that my sister can share Halloween photos of my nephews with me, and we can giggle together when we’re really 500 miles apart. Or how I can ask my mom how long to cook stuffed peppers, and she can pass off her cooking wisdom in moments in a text message. Or even how a fuzzy pair of wool socks embraces my toes and protects them from our cold floors.

Our lives are brimming with little bits of happiness. Where do you find it in yours?
birch curls

birch curls