In the spirit of paying attention to beautiful little things throughout the day, I snapped a picture of snowdrop flowers by the sidewalk. Somehow, they looked incredibly white and fresh, but not neat and pretty. The last few days/weeks were rainy, and the flowers were splattered with mud. I found another bunch of snowdrops nearby that were a bit cleaner, but for some reason, when I took a photo, it didn’t have the same sense of freshness.

I think it’s the actual mud that made the snowdrops look prettier by contrast – another reminder that context makes all the difference.

This reminded me of the essay called “In Praise of Shadows” by Junichiro Tanizaki. He talks there about the importance of shadows in accentuating bright elements of design in Japanese architecture, among other things. Looking a bit closer, he uses a juxtaposition of western and eastern cultures to showcase the latter – kind of a meta-contrast. It is fascinating and continuously surprising, a bit like the Japanese culture itself.