I heard two girls talking in a store recently. “Winter should become a verb now,” one said to the other, “we should call it wintering, meaning an awful thing that you have to do every year.” The other girl readily agreed and I was left to ponder their conversation.
I’m the first to admit that I’m not a winter lover but neither am I a winter hater. The problems that winter brings are real, as in the extra work and the added cost, and it’s easy to view winter as a way of life rather than a period of time but like life, winter is what we make of it. As someone once said “When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels.”
I choose to make snow angels, figuratively at least, and only when I’m not shoveling the stuff. I wanted to tell the girls that even the worst winter has a few good days, and how much better they’d feel about it if they just took a walk in the woods on a sunny day and saw what a little sunlight and blue shadows can do to a beech tree. In the end I didn’t say anything. I just took the walk myself.
They say in the 145 years that they’ve been keeping records of such things here in New Hampshire, that this has been the coldest February that we’ve ever seen. I can believe that; I don’t think I’ve ever had to wear as many layers just to go outside as I have this year, but it’s still better than being inside. More than a day or two of that and I start feeling as if I’m going a little stir crazy.
There are as many beautiful things to see in winter as there are in summer but because they aren’t wildflowers and butterflies, many people don’t bother going out to see them. Beauty takes on different forms in winter and you can see a lot of things that you can’t see in summer. You might see winter hug a stone, for instance. Though one is just as cold as the other, together they might generate a warm smile.
A closer look will show that even in winter the stone is alive with hundreds or even thousands of life forms, including the beautiful smoky eye boulder lichen. It’s no wonder that winter had to throw its arms around the stone with jewels like this encrusting its surface.
Stones aren’t the only place to find beautiful and interesting things in winter. Fallen branches almost always hold a surprise or two.
You could have a chance to look around an insect’s home.
Or you might find a Frullania liverwort crocheted on the bark.
Not surprisingly, the maple syrup makers say that the season will be starting late this year. It could be a week or it could be two, but not until daytime temperatures reach the mid-30s F and the nights fall to just below freezing will the sap run.
In a way, when I think of all the things that they’ll see in the woods I envy of the tree tappers, but I don’t envy their having to wade through such deep snow. The weather people say that this was also the third snowiest February in 145 years of record keeping. There was enough windblown snow up at the old abandoned road to even cover many of the vertical ledges that the mosses, lichens and liverworts grow on, so that meant that we had to cancel the Pathfinders hike because of it. I’m hoping that we see some melting soon because I was really looking forward to showing them around. We don’t want it to melt too quickly though; so much snow melting too fast could cause flooding.
I hope the girls in the store will one day discover that all of the seasons are beautiful in their own way, and I hope that they’ll give nature in winter a chance. The artist John Sloan said “Nature is what you see plus what you think about it.” I think that goes for winter too.
All seasons are beautiful for the person who carries happiness within. – Horace Friess
Thanks for stopping in.