In this elemental season of black, white and grey

Another round of Arctic air. More ice. More snow. But it’s times like these that remind us why we live in Boothbay Harbor year-round. We remember the first winter and the silence. The contrast when the shoreline is stripped to its bare essentials and each step seems an inhuman challenge when the wind – so welcome in August – comes arrowing in, straight in off the Atlantic.

What strikes us about January is the shift to a palette of black, white and grey. What in the summer is a riot of color, from the green grass of the lawn to the sunset-rainbow of day-lilies that line the paths, in winter is a blank page of white, framed by vertical black tree-trunks, white clapboards and spruce shutters that seem as dark as the surrounding pines. It is a landscape where a snowstorm gives the hardwoods a temporary cloak of blossoms, as if they’re trying on the spring and the sky lowers a blanket of grey flannel to meet the bay that is just a shade darker. All, a black-and-white photograph that July paints in every shade of blue.

But wait for night and another image emerges: suddenly, that expanse of lawn that in summer is all darkness, in January, it’s as bright as daylight. The silent passage of deer and foxes is marked by trails of footprints crisscrossing the yard, in the snow. And like an old negative, what fixes on the film is a clearer picture of the essence of this place we call home. As each day gets longer, and we start filling in the frame, the color slowly comes back again. But as we learned from David Marx in our photography workshop (which we’re repeating in June and September), sometimes you have to take what you’re looking at down to its simplest elements. Then the rich details you add make an ordinary scene, extraordinarily memorable.