Still Learning To See

Still learning to see…

I am still learning to see and most days I also feel like a giant failure! Seeing the natural world involves peeling back layer on layer and the time to just be present. Seeing my fellow human beings? Maybe not as complicated but still something that requires attention and caring. So, yes, I do fail to see as fully as I’d like every single day, and…I’m still learning and, maybe even more important, there is no end in sight!


While I was at The Met in NYC seeing art, I noticed the “art” in the fountain where the ceiling was being reflected.  Lovely. I’m fortunate to be able to visit places like NYC and still live in this quiet little town of Montpelier, Vermont, the smallest of state capitals, caught in the folds of the magnificent Green Mountains.

The state, of course, is best known for the fall colors. They are so unbelievable that over three million people come to Vermont in the fall just to see for themselves!



Whether bright reds and oranges of maples of the purple and yellow of ash, it is a joyous time to practice seeing, whether individual leaves or whole hillsides and vistas.


Some trees, like this gingko and American Chestnut, are stunning even though nowhere as common as other trees.

And there are more and more oaks, both red and white, as the climate warms. The turn late in the season, often when the rest of the hillsides are bare.


We photographers have our favorite spots to visit in order to see “peak” foliage.


By October or November this sort of scene is inevitable, and gorgeous in its own right, as days grow shorter again and temperatures drop.


But the rivers stay open a bit longer and light still reflects form their surface in astonishing ways.

And the last of the flowers hang on, here the glorious Monkshood:


Even when the leaves are gone—”stick season” as it is termed, the “sticks” themselves offer a simple beauty:


And, sometimes I’m fortunate to see such beauty as this pair of Pileated Woodpeckers feasting on wild grapes, a sight I’ll remember for years to come.


Finally, as the year draws to an end, I look forward to seeing snow and ice again! I know many think I’m odd, but I love finding the endlessly varied patterns and textures.

Thank you again for seeing Vermont with me. Please feel free to follow this blog and share it with others.


Ceres, newly installed on the statehouse dome, joins me in welcoming you to visit any time of the year. There is lots to see and I’m still learning how!


This entry was published on December 31, 2018 at 5:10 am. It’s filed under Fall colors, Flowers, Ice, John Snell, John Snell Photographer, Patterns, People, Photograph, Reflections, Snow, Trees, Vermont, Water, Winter, and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Still learning to see…

  1. Dianne Shullenberger on said:

    Thank you John for sharing your uplifting spirit and beautiful tributes to nature. It always is a perfect way to start my day. How thankful I am for our friendship. Have a safe trip and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you both. Dianne


  2. gypsysally on said:

    Two pileated woodpeckers! I’ve never seen more than one at a time! Such shy birds! Many thanks for sharing this photo with us!

    • Yes, a lovely pair of them! Curiously I often see them in urban situations. These were near a downtown Montpelier construction site where a large crane was making all kinds of racket and these two seemed unfazed!

  3. I watched a pair outside my studio in Avon. they didn’t seem to mind all the cars and human activity. I love the Art work you found at the Met in the fountain-good seeing! I wonder how the fountain sounded. One “feels” the space in your picture.

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