Sergei Avdeev, Evening Outdoors, 2014

The light had already been fading for a while that afternoon as we flung ourselves over snow drifts and up tall mountains of shoveled snow and along the garage rooftops which we could reach because the snow was so high. What had begun as a straightforward afternoon of play in the weak light after school … Continue reading Sergei Avdeev, Evening Outdoors, 2014

Cynthia W. Iliff, Untitled (Men Playing Cards), 1942

I wonder how long I waited there, as the clouds slowly moved in and obscured the sky, first dropping scattered raindrops and then eventually pelting the world with hail. I had gotten so used to the briny smell of the sea that I was surprised to notice it that morning. Sloshing and crashing against the … Continue reading Cynthia W. Iliff, Untitled (Men Playing Cards), 1942

Dormition Cathedral, Vladimir, 12th Century

Its stone walls stood sentinel on the tall embankment overlooking the Klyazma River, which wended its way sluggishly through an ocean of marshy green meadows. One end of the building swelled away from them toward the sunrise like an overripe fruit ready to burst. The other walls stood erect and prim, a musical rhythm in … Continue reading Dormition Cathedral, Vladimir, 12th Century

Anne Brigman, The Breeze, 1910

Up here—shrouded in mist and the scent of pine, a halo of fuzzy golden light surrounding my fragile silhouette—I am like a goddess. And so I strip myself of those most dull human identifiers. My hip-length jacket with the brass buttons that march up my torso, and my wide-brimmed hat with the plumage of feathers … Continue reading Anne Brigman, The Breeze, 1910

Giuseppe Pellizza, Il Sole, 1904

Forty days, they told me—quaranta giorni—but I think it was more. Sixty? Seventy-five? No matter. It's over now. During my solitude, my bedroom quickly became a dark, fusty, unwelcoming place, so I slept on my balcony most nights, in spite of the cold, my down comforter and flannel pajamas wrapped tightly around me, the slender … Continue reading Giuseppe Pellizza, Il Sole, 1904

Gravestone from the Taifa Kingdom, Almería, Spain, 1044

  The girl visited the grave on the hill nearly every day. It was late in the summer and the grasses and shrubs—the whole earth it seemed—were tawny under the bright, golden sun. The dry wind tugged at her veil, allowing tendrils of dark hair to escape and lash at her face. She always came … Continue reading Gravestone from the Taifa Kingdom, Almería, Spain, 1044

Pyotr Konchalovsky, First Snow. Blue Dacha, 1938

My parents' country house was built nearly a century ago, and though it's a country house, it has many of the trappings of an upscale city dwelling. There are formal spaces with slick, polished wood floors, large glass windows with delicate carving around the moldings, and rich fabrics with tulips and rosettes adorning the floors … Continue reading Pyotr Konchalovsky, First Snow. Blue Dacha, 1938

Pieter Breugel the Elder, Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap, 1565

Everyone told her it would be cold, but she thought perhaps the snow and ice might wait a while. At least give her a chance to settle in before greeting her. But that, of course, was not to be. Their caravan had been on the move for months now, and she felt that she had … Continue reading Pieter Breugel the Elder, Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap, 1565

Otto Marseus van Shrieck, A Forest Floor Still Life, 1666

Children the world over have long been told tales about the sinister magic of the forest at night. Stories about witches and hungry wolves and beady-eyed raptors. Stories about darkness swallowing up all traces of goodness. Stories about the innocent entering into the woods never to be seen again. These stories are quickly followed up … Continue reading Otto Marseus van Shrieck, A Forest Floor Still Life, 1666