Frozen Creek

Frozen Creek

Frozen Creek

In winter when the creeks and streams freeze, they suddenly seem wider and the course of each one becomes more prominent. Due to the glaring white of the snow over the ice cover and the apparent opening of their banks when the tree branches are bare, tributaries that appeared narrow and almost hidden beneath overgrowth now seem to exhibit a little more substantial dimension and have greater definition.

When I follow along these waterways in wintry weather, I sometimes recognize features of the scenery I hadn’t noticed in other seasons. Lately, during walks along the frozen creek seen in the photo above, I realized how in summer I had traveled a nearby trail, unable to get too near the water because knots of thickets and a wide collar of tangled underbrush impeded my path, and I hadn’t fully appreciated the aesthetic artistry of the creek’s configuration as it threads through the woods, whose exposed long limbs now present their own ornamental interest.

In fact, during warmer weather the canopies of overhanging trees, their dark shadows encroaching upon the passage of streams, frequently camouflage the true size and shape of the waterways, even when viewed from one of the various wooden bridges of the park’s established trails that cross the creek (one of which can be spotted in the background of the photo above).

The smoothness lent by recent snowfall along the creek’s length highlights a pattern of curves that resembles molded turns witnessed in beautiful bent metal sculptures or other forms of decorative art, perhaps even similar to the traditional S-curve employed by artists over the centuries who identified this compositional form as offering elegance and being pleasing to the eye. The artist William Hogarth even theorized the S-curve to be a premier design of beauty that is a basis for great art.

Though some might think the northern Indiana landscape loses much of its attraction in winter with the absence of colorful flowers or foliage, I have been delighted to discover a different type of grace replaces those elements. Indeed, the artistry of the creeks and streams is laid bare for all to admire, displaying aspects attributed to the finest minimalist illustrations. The color palette in winter is limited and the designs of the objects seem simplified just as in those well-known artworks associated with minimalist artists like a famous individual born in a northern county of Indiana, sculptor David Smith.

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