Last winter, on a sunny day when a cold wet snow blanketed the ground and tree limbs were naked, I sat by the lake with Rabia and wondered if the rolling white fields I was seeing across the lake would still be visible when trees were in leaf. This past week someone in Seattle reached out and asked if I could see those fields now.
While I am certain the Genevan diaspora checks in on the Finger Lakes Times, I also post Denim Spirit on my professional website and it was a subscriber who has never been to the Finger Lakes who wanted to know. The funny thing is, I had not remembered to notice. I would like to think that indicates I am “in the moment” when at lakeside, but as soon as I read the inquiry I remembered that back in January I had made a mental note to myself to check. That mental note clearly didn’t make it through the thaw.
The inquiring reader also wanted to know if I thought the view was more beautiful in winter or now with the new season painting the world in hues of green. I felt myself resisting that question, not wanting to make such an aesthetic judgement. But first, to answer the question about the visibility of the fields.
The largest field is clearly visible now, a carpet of vibrant spring green framed by darker shades of leaf and sage instead of winter white surrounded by earth tones. But the fields on either side of that large one are already obscured even without the tree’s branches dressed in full leaf. Ventosa Winery, a farm house, and a barn lend themselves to the pastoral scene. They may be riddled with mad and intensive activity on their side of the lake, but from my perch far away I can see no movement.
Beauty. Not only is it in the eye of the beholder it is in the moment of being beheld. One and the same scene could seem draped in beauty by one mindset while merely humdrum ordinary when within another. Whether art, person, place, or thing how we are feeling at any given moment colors what we see and how we judge it. The same holds true for memory. What we are feeling at the time we remember something radically influences how it is remembered. We proceed from the assumption that beauty is static — either it is or it isn’t. Or with memory, it was or it wasn’t. Yet both are influenced by the frame of mind beholding it.
It is worth thinking about when I am quick to judge, judge fiercely, or catch myself stuck in an opinion like a fly in paint. Is my memory freighted with current discontent or conversely, wrapped in a mood of sentimentality? Is my view of someone or something mutilated by a present state of agitation, or favorably slanted by a hunger or itch I wish to resolve?
Well, sitting there on the scale of the question about which is more beautiful — that winter scene that was wrapped in a fond memory of snow and sunshine or the present moment surrounded by cold (for May) and gray-blue clouds — I wanted to answer “winter!” But there I was sitting next to my dog and at peace, so I could not decide.