The landscape here in northern Colorado has shifted dramatically. The past few days have been snowy, crisply cold and mostly overcast, so we quickly moved from a season of harvest and raking leaves to bringing in wood and shoveling walkways. Preparing handmade cards for stores or custom cards for individuals has made me aware of how the colors of the seasons shift and how colors figure into cards to celebrate different holidays.
Today, when it stopped snowing, I went for a walk along the Poudre River in LaPorte, Colorado. I am preparing handmade cards to celebrate winter; and for local shops, next week we will take out the Thanksgiving and autumn greeting cards and replace them with Christmas, Hanukkah, solstice and winter themes.
I realized, out walking, that all those vivid oranges and browns we associate with autumn and harvest were gone. The snow was covering everything on the ground except for taller grasses poking through. Fence posts all had separate piles of snow on them, and the trees have all now lost their leaves. We had a mild autumn, and these last few days help us realize that December is only a few days away.
The sky toward the western foothills was so gray I couldn’t see where the sky and the land met. The most color was a bright blue just overhead, but that was being shut out by a gradual graying that was reflected in the water. I was surprised by the variety of grays, how the ice along the edges of the river went from a snowy white to a gradual frozen gray and then a darker, blackish-blue moving water. I actually scanned the fields looking for remnants of those autumn colors, so frequent on Thanksgiving cards; but everything seemed a striking and interesting variation on darks, whites and grays. Even the rusted bridge over the river seemed to have lost its redness and was just dark, absorbent. The brightest thing I saw on the drive to the main road was a vivid orange-yellow fire hydrant; and it had a large cone of snow on top, like a white gnome hat.
Making handmade greeting cards has sharpened my vision. I pay closer attention, now, to how leaves on trees vary in color, how gray isn’t just gray but so many different variations seen in the sky, in clouds, in washed out fields and with snow-laden trees in the distance. I see why winter cards are often blue and white, and I used those colors in many of the Wabi-Ware custom Hanukkah cards I made this year. Hanukkah is early this year, so those handmade cards already went out in the mail to customers who ordered custom greetings for their family.
In contrast, the Christmas cards headed for stores next week include reds and greens – on evergreen trees or bits of holly. Winter solstice cards will portray the stark contrast between light and dark. Winter doesn’t officially start until the winter solstice on Dec. 21-22, but with the past few days of snow and cold, it feels like the season shifted today.