On the day after the storm the air is cold and bright. A man enters a forest and wades through drifts along a stream. He stays alert to the murmur of the wind and the sound of clumps of snow falling from branches. He smells the fragrance of the cedars and listens to the cries of a hawk, but he is thinking of William Blake, trudging over sooty cobblestones under the sulfurous skies of London, imagining a vision of the “World in a Grain of Sand.”
The dogs, two dark silhouettes against the snow, frolic in the drifts. They pause to look back at him. He pauses too, leans against a pine and takes a mechanical pencil and a small book out of his parka. He draws quickly: shapes of snow, the curves of the far bank, ripples of light, like coins floating on the current, the large stone in the stream, like an altar under its white mantle,. His fingers grow stiff and the lead keeps breaking. He scribbles, “cerulean and pink shadows” and ”ochre water” and draws arrows to show the direction of light.
Suddenly the light fades and it’s too dark to see the book or the trees or the river. Where are the dogs? The wind burns his face. Then the trees and snow come back into focus. He hears a sound he can’t define, a choir? Wind, shadows, stone, water, snow, trees all fuse together — a chorus of light. Here is here! Here is there? Is everywhere? Is now?
The dogs nudge his legs, pulling him back into himself. He fumbles in the snow for the pencil he has dropped. His legs tremble. He feels scared and indescribably happy. He follows the dogs on their way to nowhere in particular, shivered by the cold and by his glimpse of a Grain.