Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 1895

We say spring begins March 21, but Levitan wants us to pay attention to the new season a good while before the birds return and the buds open. 

Russian winters can last up to six months! Six frozen months of temperatures so low, sap can freeze causing a tree trunk to explode. Here, Levitan is sharing, with the melting of snow (which also means mud), spring is here.

The snow pile is shrinking on the roof of the little porch and has already fallen off the fir trees. The ice-encased birch branches have been freed. The horse is taking in the sun, waiting for his owner, whose footprints we can see going off into the woods through the slushy snow. 

We all know a day like this: we go outside with fewer layers of clothes and just stand there, letting our bones soak up the strengthening sun. Even the little birdhouse up top in the birch tree seems to be taking in the sunlight!

Levitan is known as a Mood Landscape artist, because he is so good at capturing the atmosphere of a scene (the mood). I'm thinking, the Catholic Mass ends with the words, "Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing." OK, but there's also a time to lift up our heads to receive God's blessing. Levitan's first hint-of-spring days, all blue sky and disappearing snow, invites us to look up with grateful eyes.


  1. I do feel the sense of mood in each of his works so far. This one promises us that more light will be coming. Changes for the better. The deer seems to be waiting for it also.

  2. There is much to take in here. The anticipation of Spring is palpable as horse waits, with his bones showing from a long winter with little to eat. He might be anticipating the green grasses that come with the sun as the trees also await their leaves, and the birds look for the softening of the ground for their next meal. The things of nature know to be patient. A lesson for us to learn here.

  3. The cold snow and ice melt because of the warmth from surface below and from the radiant heat of the sky above. Similarly this natural phenomena has a parallel supernatural phenomena.

    I have felt that my cold frozen stony heart at times is warmed by God's grace. It gives me a 'blue sky feeling' to know that God can work in, through, and with me so long as I do not obstruct the flow of that energy. Why would I ?! On the contrary I'd welcome such warm grace; yearn for it as the deer would welcome the cold water from the streams after the snow melts...

  4. There's an important Psalm reference here: 42:1-6. A very good, few verses for Lent.