Gray

On St Patrick’s Day we drove to Yosemite to celebrate a milestone anniversary minus one. It was a perfect spring-like day with bright blue skies and crisply cool temperatures. The gray granite walls of El Capitan and Half Dome were pale in the hazy sunlight. The falls in the valley were gushing with early spring melt. Snow still thickly bordered the creeks, but small chucks of ice sailed swiftly along, gathering speed as the melt rushed toward the Merced. A brisk walk along the footpath of the Lower Yosemite Falls warmed my body’s core, but my gloveless hands were icy cold. I tipped my head back to sniff the fragrance of firs, cedars, and the forest floor damp from yesterday’s rain. Shrubs and deciduous trees seemed emergent, on the edge of awakening to the coming season.

The next morning we awoke to gray skies and plummeting temperatures, the front edge of an approaching storm. Overnight the valley had undergone a radical shift in its countenance. The deeper grays of the valley walls were in sharp contrast to the bright snow banks angled here and there on sheer granite cornices. The falls were still bursting over cliff edges, thundering toward the rocks below, spraying admirers with veils of mist. But the trees seemed to have thrown up their stark gray arms is dismay, insisting that winter shouldn’t be shortchanged; spring was still three days away.

What a privilege to stand at the pivot point of seasons in such a short span of time in one of creation’s most majestic locations.

We’re all accustomed to the beauty of approaching spring. But are we similarly attuned to the beauty of reasserting winter, especially the winter-times in our lives?

Looking back on the grayness of a winter-time in your life, where did you see its beauty? How was the new life of springtime asserting itself then? Now? Has winter ever overtaken you when you thought spring was in full bloom? If you were to paint a picture of that time in shades of gray, what would it look like? What would the accent of spring be?

Looking forward to hearing about your shades of gray.

On another note, for those of you who have wondered, like me, whether it’s gray or grey, here’s an easy way to remember. It’s spelled gray in the US and grey in the UK. So just think “a” as in American and “e” as in English. No shades of grey here.

9 comments to Gray

  • Marie Hague

    Lucky you! To be in Yosemite at any time of the year is to be blessed. To enjoy the beauty of our world is a gift beyond measure.
    I have happy memories of family and friends from our many trips to this beautiful area and am always delighted to visit there.

  • ANNA POWELL

    Dear Lynne,
    I really enjoyed this. I could almost smell the trees and other fragrances. The falls must have been beautiful. Yosemite has always been our favorite spot. Never there in winter, but used to go often in spring. Hope we can get up there once more. Neat comparison of our lives to winter and spring. I think of winter as a child playing in the snow and ice skating. That was not a gray period, but of course life has had some ups and downs with gray times. The rain and snow on our mountains are really a beautiful time for us.

  • Steph

    Ah. Gray. I have OFTEN wondered how to spell that word – even this morning, looking at an ominous sky! But then your email/blog came in – and, now, I will remember! Thank you. You’ve been a grayt help!

    It seems winter and spring compete in a dance-off until winter finally concedes. On March 10th, I’d seen yellow highlighting the nearest mountain peak across the 101 from our Faria Beach camping spot. We had to leave there too soon – evacuated in anticipation of the tsunami. Soon, word of millions going without food, water, and electricity – in freezing temperatures – took me back to winter.

    Then St. Patrick’s Day, we noticed the Fillmore orange blossoms for the first time this season: Thank God; Andrew was still home on spring break to enjoy that. The next day, I saw the first leaves on one of our trees. A couple days later, the arms on the trees that line our street were covered with the palest gray leaves – as if they needed a shave. The trunks could have been painted a funny brown by kindergarten students using brushes that hadn’t been cleaned properly after the children had used black paint. The leaves were barely the breadth of a colored pencil stroke.

  • Dana Thompson

    We enjoyed a lovely day in Yosemite the first week in March. The walk to the Yosemite Falls was wonderful, and the valley was glorious in sun and some misty rain. The crowds were not there, and our only disappointment was not having lunch at the Ahwannee since it was closed for repairs. Sitting outdoors with a sandwich from the deli was a good substitute.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    The closest I have to being in Yosemite is having seen pictures of myself there when I was very little. I also have heard Dede’s stories. Not the same as it would be to personally experience it myself.

    A promise of spring, just to have winter reappear, speaking in a metaphoric manner, I have seen and experienced. It’s sort of been like that with retirement. Ah, to look forward to being retired, and then to actually be retired, have proven to be “two very different animals”.

    But I think I finally see the breaking in of spring..

  • Helen

    What a lovely piece. Thank you. The spring has arrived here in England too and the blossom is opening everywhere to colour the grey winter landscape – a blessing indeed! I loved reading of the plants and places and thoughts that are gracing your American Springtime.Your words reminded me of this piece that I wrote one March morning a year or two ago. Maybe it will return the favour!

    New washed by the early rain
    The world seems damply grey
    In the early morning light
    All is as it was
    And yet all is changed

    Yesterday’s dusty marks
    Washed smoothly away
    Yesterday’s dormant seeds
    Awoken to the promise of new life
    Yesterday’s tired face refreshed anew
    By the blessed rain from heaven

    And I am reminded of your living water
    Washing away the marks made by man
    Gifting in me the promise of new life
    Refreshing my weary, life stained heart

    New washed by your abundant streams
    In the early morning light
    I look out on a world renewed
    And give thanks
    For the blessed rain from heaven

  • The weekend after my wife delivered a baby that had died in the womb we had a small funeral and then headed to the beach in Delaware. The beach has always been a place of comfort and hope for me. That winter weekend it was cold and gray (I mean grey). Way too much pain for my wife. Way too much confusion for me in knowing how to care for her, let alone understand my own grief at losing not only a baby but possibilities.

    As I walked alone on the beach, looking at the surf and praying, I felt that God gave me one word when I asked him why. God simply said, “Majesty.” In fact the old praise song by Jack Hayford began to blast between my ears. God brought spring into my winter even though I really had no idea how God’s majesty would reveal spring (let alone summer days on a beach that I longed to reclaim).

    Four children later and more beach time than I care to count, I see God’s majesty. Yeah, winter blasted back in with three more miscarriages and three more trips to the emergency room and three more seasons of loss, but I’ve now grown to appreciate those different seasons.

    Took all four kids to Yosemite last summer. Watched them hike, play in a cool pool of water and get stoked at seeing a deer so close to the house. That was a great summer in so many ways.

  • Michele Q

    THANK YOU! I have always wondered the difference between “gray” and “grey”, and if one is more correct than the other. Beautiful words, Lynne! Beautiful words from Tom as well.

  • cynthia thomas

    which winter do i focus on? there have been several. i’m so tired of focussing on my stroke in 1981, but it was such a huge pivotal point in my life. my survival was a second chance at an authentic life. my spring was discovering who i am; prior to my stroke, i defined my identity by what i could do. once the stroke stripped most of my doing away, i felt empty-handed for awhile as i discovered who i am. my discovery allowed me to bloom in full color. as i slowly came to embrace myself, the blooms became full. it’s been a wild & sometimes scary process. it has also strengthened me. i have a firm sense of self & know that i am a strong woman. i have a full life that i love most of the time. as i recovered from my stroke & reinvented my life, i tapped into a resevoir of creativity that i didn’t realize i possessed. what a gift it’s been! and the ultimate gift of this chapter of my life is that i’ve experienced god’s mercy & grace at a level that is beyond what i thought possible.

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