Happy Groundhog Day!
Reflections on Light and Shadow
Groundhog Day seems to be the perfect opportunity to talk about shadows. It also feels relevant this year as I think of the Ground Hog Day movie with Bill Murray and the idea of repeating the same day over and over again. Quarantine and time at home sometimes feels like that this year.
I’ve been reading a book by Clare Walker Leslie about the ancient Celtic wheel of the year and how our modern holidays originate from these ancient rituals. February 1 or 2 is known as “Imbolc” in the Celtic year and is the mid-point of winter, a time to celebrate that the days are noticeably lengthening and Spring is on its way. Its name means “in the womb” suggesting a time of birthing and the coming new life of spring.
This time of year, our best chance for seeing shadows is the bright light of midday. I encourage you to find a day this week to spend some time on a shadow collecting walk. You could photograph unique shadows or just notice them. If winter weather makes shadows outside elusive, you might also try some shadow play indoors. See the practice ideas for suggestions.
Trees are one of my favorite sources of playful light and shadows. There is a Japanese word, komorebi, that refers to the unique way sunlight filters through leaves. When I think of this word, I think of the glow in autumn as the late afternoon sun filters through the colorful leaves, I think of the long shadows cast by forest trees that seem to suggest the sun’s rays on early morning walks at Huntley Meadows Park. I remember the stunning phenomena of how leaves can create circles on the sidewalk, little projections of the sun revealed through the irregular shaped openings between leaves. When I am out walking, tree shadows across the path remind me of the network of root systems underneath the ground mirroring the branches above. I am reminded how walking on the earth, I am literally walking both over and under the tree.