It was sunny and warm yesterday – perfect conditions for snowshoeing.  We headed off into the woods without a specific destination but rather to explore.  The snow was still deep where is was sheltered from the full sunlight making our snowshoes a definite requirement for any navigation.  There were numerous deer trails and turkey tracks throughout the woods.  After awhile we came upon a small clearing that was more open to the sunlight.  The shadows fell strong upon the snow, in undulating lines and patterns —  a dynamic statement of the beauty of winter.


This morning was cold and windy.  The sky was cloudy and the air was filled with fine sleet and tiny snow.  Winter still has its grip, and we were on a drive exploring.  The forests can be thick or thinned.  In this one area was a wonderful stand of birch and aspen, with a few small oaks in their midst.  The colors and contrasts caught my eye –  white on white, gray on white, and brown and white.  Certainly a limited color palate, but beautiful in its starkness.

During the past week we have had three distinct snowfalls, each one giving us plenty of opportunity to be outside.  Just as we start to grumble about winter we remind ourselves that we are exercising while shoveling, we are getting Vitamin D on those mornings when the sun is sparkling over the fresh blanket of snow, and we are seeing our neighbors more regularly as we are all outside clearing our sidewalks and drives.  For some reason my snow shoveling seems to take longer than others.  I’m stopping to see the soft drifts that are piling up, I’m watching the clouds start to dissipate as the sun burns through them, I’m marveling at the brightest of blue skies overhead, I’m hearing a call of a cardinal in between the sound of snow blowers,  and I’m noticing how the snow has settled so lightly on  some of the tree branches.  All those details only enhance my appreciation of winter and its unique beauty.

A week ago we headed north to visit a friend near Duluth.  The weather was sunny but still cold; we were excited to be at 15 degrees!  We all strapped on our snowshoes and headed out into the woods.  Along for the trip was Halo – a happy, snow loving dog who was running rings around us.  Halo is enjoying life now after suffering while with a previous owner.  She is missing one of her hind legs, but seeing her jump through the deep snow, bounding ahead of us, and loving every minute of it, you’d never know that it might slow her down.  She was in her element and reminded us all of embracing the seasons that we have and enjoying them to their fullest, no matter!

The dawn was cloudy and gray this morning.  After the first light the snow started to fall; small and delicate, the flakes floated slowly to the ground.  There wasn’t much wind, so their gracefulness was beautiful.  Within a few hours the snow stopped and the clouds cleared.  This was a direct contrast to the snowfall we had earlier in the week.  With winds up to 40 mph and snow falling at over an inch per hour, those blizzard conditions were anything but quiet and peaceful.  That snowfall accumulated to 10 inches; today’s was a light dusting.

The morning dawned quietly.  There was little wind and the air was unusually warm for mid-winter.  But we’ve been enjoying the ubiquitous January thaw the past few days – temps have climbed into the 30’s and even 40’s, people walk around without their coats, and melting and dripping are common sounds.  We were out for a drive, rounded a corner, and this lovely lake outlet was open water.  The mallard ducks were startled by our sounds and they quickly took flight.  But the stillness of winter was evident in the reflection of the trees in the water and the large piece of ice that hadn’t given up to the warmth just yet.

There’s a delicious quiet that permeates dawn when the ground is covered with snow and the temperature hovers at 15 below zero.  The rest of the world is slumbering and keeping warm.  But the dawn awakens with a pink and orange glow on the far horizon, slowly trying to chase the waning moon from its low position in the sky.  The dawn’s light gradually becomes brighter and the moon’s light fades.  Sunlight is short this morning as the clouds move in after a couple of hours, followed by rising temperatures above zero and then snow blows across the landscape.  The beauty and quiet of dawn seems a distant memory.

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