Friday, January 18, 2013
Winter Snowflower, Jamestown, NC
Given the choice between a Broadway musical and a PGA tour event, I’ll take the golf tickets to the corporate tent. But living with the fairer sex for forty years did expose me to some of the finer things in life which I actually enjoyed including good musical entertainment with heart touching story lines and lyrics like Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miz, Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Annie, and yes, Cats. There were poignant moments in all of these experiences that made you stop the music and reflect on your life. It also didn’t hurt that my daughter performed in many of these musicals as a teenager and was a joy to watch.
I had one of those moments in the middle of a dark sunflower field this morning. The first major winter storm of the season roared through the Carolinas last night bringing heavy rain turning to freezing rain, sleet, wet snow and power outages. Rare claps of thundersnow issued fatalistic warnings which the natives claim will foretell another winter storm in ten days. I had previously photographed the sunflower field in the prime of summer’s golden glory and happened upon one particular sunflower on the far edge of the field that was entwined in morning glory vines that highlighted this one creation for its unique beauty.
As I later drove past the field, it had occurred to me that the blackened plants might be interesting to photograph against a white blanket of fresh snow. Once I had shoveled the snow accumulation off my driveway, I gathered up my camera gear and drove off to fulfill the promise of another photo op. Fortunately, the rising morning sunbeams were beginning to warm the road surfaces, but nature’s organic surfaces still held the wet snow that had clung to all surfaces overnight, including the sunflower field. As I began looking through the camera lens for images that might prove interesting, I slowly made my way through the frozen field. And then while scanning the bowed heads for something out of the ordinary, the very same sunflower that had caught my eye this summer came into my view finder. The image with now barren vines immediately reminded me of one of the principal Jellicles in the musical Cats--Grizabella.
Grizabella had once enjoyed a life of carefree youthful exuberance amid the tribe of Jellicle cats, but they had shunned her in her waning years. Her decrepit and faded appearance at the Jellicle Ball in the junk yard initially did nothing to raise her stock as she vied to be the one chosen to go to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn to a new Jellicle Life. But the haunting lyrics of the song she sang about her memory of better days and hope for a new restored life won them over to her side. The faded sunflower surely was alone in the moonlight last night as withered leaves collected at her feet and the wind began to moan when the winter storm rapidly descended on the Jellicle field. When the dawn came, the street lights died and the night became just another memory. A new day heralding new life had begun as the morning glory blooms had been transformed and bright sunshine revealed a glimmering pure white robe cloaked around the renewed snowflower as her memory of days in the sun lives on.