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and which, on spring's altar, sacrificed their fleeting souls of crystal to the
sun! In this season the mountain woods allow for seeing lines and colours
that full spring and summer will conceal under the abundance of foliage.
Thus, on the flanks of the great basaltic vase at whose bottom the lake
palpitates, nothing hides the carpet of remnants from the other seasons,
laminated and polished by the weight of snow. The supple mosaic of dead
leaves espouses and reveals all the least vales of the underbrush, displays
the mossy feet of the trees and the lichenous ruins of ancient stumps.
Against this brown backdrop, so delicately nuanced, spring forth sprays
of the graceful growth of the slender birches, which have black calluses on
their axils. Higher, farther away, something tells me that this vaporous
grey tint stems from the multitude of still-naked maple branches. The
great black pines, the great green pines - one like the other - stand out in
the mid-April sun. Nothing yet bothers their furry, immobile heads, which
are silhouetted sharply against this background of light, as if petrified in
time, always unvarying as it passes by them.]
The unique impression that emerges from this scene is governed by the
visual moment and the viewpoint. Caught on the cusp between seasons
- no longer winter; not yet 'le vrai printemps' - nature appears in a
state of flux; indeed, it hovers between states of matter, as the waters
and the sun threaten to vaporize what little solidity remains of the ice
that once constituted the scene's architecture ('la salle de glace'). The
lake itself, activated by personification ('libéré,' 'riait,' 'joie'), displays a
variety of blues, which combine to form an overall hue rendered in the
singular and as a noun, which is then modified by a hint of tone and
texture ('bleues, d'un bleu d'acier'). Only at this particular point of the
season can we see ('laissent voir') certain lines and colours ('des lignes
et des couleurs') that will soon be covered by the foliage, but they are
also visible because of the elevated vantage point. By looking down on
the scene ('au fond duquel palpite le lac'), space is flattened and comes
to constitute a homogeneous mass, against which salient features stand
out. An initial impression is rendered by a metaphor borrowed from
the visual arts, whose singular form ('le tapis') brings together the vari-
ous remains littering the ground ('les dépouilles de l'autre saison').
This still vague expression is then rectified by a second metaphor, also
borrowed from the arts and expressed in the singular ('la souple mar-
queterie') followed by the literal term, here specifically identified ('des
feuilles mortes'). This terrestrial background then forms a single mass
of shades of brown ('sur ce fond brun, si délicatement nuancé'), against
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