On white.

I've been out walking, escaping the tyranny of chairs in a conference week of lecture halls and classrooms. Yesterday the wind was biting; today it carried the earthy smell of leaves too long under snow. The gardens are still dormant, waiting for the fickle Alberta spring to settle. Patience is a virtue for plants in this climate. For gardeners, too.

Garden on 17th Street, 2013 © FM Vettergreen, all rights reserved

We've had our share of late snow this year, blanketing everything horizontal with a thick layer of sparkling white and leaving the vertical to define the landscape. The winter palette is crystalline…until it warms and softens and my brush swirls through the paint to capture the texture of the thaw. It's a magical and messy season, fraught with risk.

I struggle with the transition out of winter, reluctant to give up my cocoon of cozy sweaters and down duvets. There's something about spring snowstorms, the way they force the city into rare and restful quiet, different from the driving blizzards of January. It gives me space to look, to figure out the shapes of the neighborhood, and entices me into the studio to draw. But then the wind warms, and there's that smell, and the crocuses push small fingers of green up between the houses, and that's it. I'm ready.


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