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A gray day

Lead Summary

HCP columnist

We woke up this morning to a warm, gray day. I looked out the loft window as I got out of bed. A gentle rain fell.

I could see the goats standing in their doorways, peering out across the morning yard from their goat houses, just as I was looking out from the cabin.

There was no blue to the sky. Almost whitewashed wisps of gray clouds trailed across the creek valley.

The goats saw me at the window and began their beggarly morning bleat.

I was amazed at the warm air that blew gently in through the loft window. We had even let the fire in the wood stove die out, but I was curious as to just how warm it really was.

As soon as I got downstairs, I checked the weather gauge. It read an oddly warm 60 degrees, and daylight was just breaking.

We had planned to take the whole day off after we finished our chores. We had no reason to leave the farm, and thought that we would just putter about, enjoying the day, but it was such a gray day.

I wondered if I might as well fire up my computer and do some lawyer work, after all; but with chores and breakfast dishes done, we decided to go for a walk. The rain had stopped falling.

I laced up my boots, and hung my camera around my neck. I had dusted it off the night before when we decided to take the day off. I have always enjoyed taking pictures, but I was not so sure about gray-day photographs. Still, I thought, I would follow my plan, at least as long as the rain held off.


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We certainly did not have to wear jackets or gloves, which made taking mid-December pictures, quite a snap, literally. As we passed by the told tobacco barn, I noticed that the dark gray of the old wood stood out in sharp contrast to the light gray of the sky. I was amazed at the beauty that greeted me through the camera lens.

I stood still, and reached out to touch some moss that grew on the creek side of the barn. It looked almost neon green against the damp, weathered wood

Greg and the dogs walked on ahead. I paused to photograph bright shoots of green grass that stood out starkly from the multihued browns of forest floor leaves.

I heard the call of a hawk and looked up at the sky. I saw the dark fingers of the damp trees etching a beautiful still life as the hawk flew off to the far side of the creek. The hawk was gone, but my camera's eye was delighted with the tree branches that reached out to the gray- washed sky.

As I walked, pausing to photograph here and there, I tried not to step in the mud that seemed to be everywhere. I figured that there was no need to wash off my boots by the outside spigot if I did not have to, but as I stepped across one of the many puddles, I noticed my reflection in the still, shallow water. My camera began to thirstily drink up the puddles. 

As I stepped across a muddy wash, I noticed that the mud beside the puddles actually glistened and seemed to have the texture of fine velvet, in stark contrast to the heavier pebbles and coarse twigs that the water had dropped off to the side. My camera almost touched the mud so that I could capture the glossy, soft brown surface.

Our walk was longer than expected, as I frequently stopped to photograph our creek valley world. The weather was warmer than expected, and even though I did not wear a jacket, I was amazed that I managed to work up a sweat in mid-December.

And yes, the damp, gray day was far more beautiful than expected. I only had to open my eyes and really look at it, with thanks to my camera for opening my eyes.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at

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