Reflections and notes on the relationship of art to nature and of nature to art from along Warwoman Creek, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Katuah Province of Turtle Island, where the light, the dark, the seasons, the time of deep past, deep present and deep future all mix in alchemal mists to reveal and hide and transform these slopes, shaded coves, bright rivers, deep forests and me, and together sustain me and my art.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


In the early hours of this morning it snowed!

For those living farther north this is commonplace, but for us living on the southernmost prow of the Blue Ridge (a finger of the Appalachian chain), it's a chancy thing. Each late fall we prognosticate on its likely hood during the coming winter, measure the black section on "wooly worms" in prophecy, consult the Farmer's Almanac. But we never know. We've had many snow-less winters, but on the other hand older residents can tell of 24+" snows that isolated every one for weeks in these steep sloped mountains and narrow valleys.

This first snow always brings out the child in us. The older among us can mutter that this can get quickly tiresome and make life difficult, but even their eyes brighten at this first snow. Surely it has this power exactly because it does conjure up the child in us, and reminds even the crusty curmudgeon that the child still lives somewhere inside each of us. But I think it is not just the innocence we associate with childhood, but the child's ability to see things newly. To witness first snow is to be reminded that we can still see things newly, and that what we call "the world" is a spectacular experience of transformation. First snow is proof of this.

So, a poem I've been waiting so long to post here:


Oh, snow! clean
like forgetting, fresh
like remembering

- Laurence Holden, 2/27/08

Snow makes the world new. And as it does, it affects how we see ourselves. We in reply feel freshened. And this very real conversation reflects something that the 8th Century Zen master Kukei pointed to in "Singing Images of Fire":

"A hand moves, and the fire's whirling takes different
...all things change when we do.
The first word, ah, blossoms into all others.
Each of them is true."

(trans. by Jane Hirschfield)

Thus, this morning I can say in reply:

First snow!
when all things change,
so do I.

First snow, or first word,
they each blossom into all the others.
Each of them is true.


  1. What a wonderful treat to read this posting! The memory of childhood enchantment, punctuated by your perfect poem.

    The pictures are great too; I can just picture myself crunching in your field.

    Happy 2010! A clean, fresh new year.

  2. How beautiful and mystical are the pictures of the snow at your place. Your poem is haiku-ish Koan-ish. Short and crisp like the show itself. Thanks for drawing my atention to your blog. Please keep doing this. We had a snowfall at Hambidge when I was there toward the end. It was a dusting that I woke up to on a foggy, dripping morning. I felt blanketed and more insulated from the outside. I'm reminded of the long poem Snowbound by John Greenleaf Whittier that speaks of complete isolation by snow and the warmth of the hearth and home inside.

  3. Wonderful photos, Laurence! I can count on one hand the times it has snowed in the Low are so blessed! The silence of snow is always so startling to me...maybe it's just because the whole town shuts down when it falls! Ahh, bliss!!