in search of the Welsh sublime

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When I captured the first photo above – the dramatic view of distant Castell Dinas Bran radiant in the sunlight and mist – I felt as though I’d stepped into a painting by Thomas Cole, one of my favorite artists associated with the Hudson River School. (The thematic similarity of castle ruins immediately made me think of The Present, a painting I used to teach with almost daily in my previous job, but it could really be any glorious Cole landscape!)

I expected a grey, wintry Wales awaited me during my trip in January, so the verdant pastures and generally vernal signs of life took me by surprise. If only the bleak New England beginning-of-the-year could take some tips from Great Britain!

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In my natural habitat in January, an incredible structure like the Cefn Viaduct would be utterly iced over, wouldn’t it?

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It’s nearly February now and I doubt I’ll see such glorious color until March or April…

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…or such celestial evening light!

What’s most ridiculous about this post, of course, is that Thomas Cole, born in England, sought out the specifically American sublime as an adventurous new alternative to Old World Romantic nature – and here I am doing the exact opposite. (In fact, in The Oxbow Cole painted my own local landscape: and made it look just as glowing and theatrical as the Welsh mountain scene after a storm I witnessed!) I suppose it’s a “grass is always greener” situation: though you have to admit that the grass literally is greener in Wales than in New England at the moment.

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