Airport Road, Swanzey, NH

Today instead of walking first thing in the morning, I waited for the perfect afternoon moment. This morning was cold and drizzly, with temperatures hovering around freezing: a perfect morning for lazing about in pjs & napping, listening to rain blowing against the windowpanes.

After lunch, the right moment arrived. The rain stopped and half the sky lightened. From one window, the sky was gray & furrowed; from another, puffs of white floated in crystal blue. The damp street in front of our house shone blue in a steely, slanted light; the world seemed riven, half lit in gold, the other half in pewter.

The best place to walk in Keene on afternoons like this is down Airport Road. Traffic is light, so Reggie can run off-leash, and the views of field and sky are spectacular, spanning widely in all directions.

Those who praise New England autumns have never experienced her in her more somber moods. The cloudy days of winter reveal a subtle palette of colors: gold grass, gray water, deep green pines, smokey purple hillsides, and the reddish smudge of dormant leaf buds. And our winter skies are stunning: yesterday was cloudless and clear, but today’s sky was glorious, with brooding gray brows hovering over a gleaming horizon.

Bright days leave me feeling depressed and alone, exposed; when the clouds are so close you can touch, though, heaven seems very near. How do people live in places were the sky never scowls? The pretty and the picturesque are fine indeed, but give me the sublime anyday: I prefer a landscape–a skyscape!–that expresses the entire gamut of human moods, both surly and sweet.