snow


Sometimes the beauty of winter takes my breath away –  the clearest of blue skies, ice and frost lining the tree limbs, the bright sunlight beaming down, and the fresh snow reflecting that sunlight in small diamonds all across the frozen lake in front of me.

The end of 2019 brought a beautiful fresh snowfall to Minnesota and Wisconsin.  What started out as sleet and rain ended as three to four inches of snow that clung to the wet branches and leaves.  Our surroundings became a true winter wonderland.  Without a strong wind and with temperatures below freezing, we celebrated the start of a new year surrounded by this beauty.  The setting sun through the winter forest brought a stream of golden light onto the frozen pond in front of me.  I stood here for awhile, marveling at the light blue tinted snow and the golden sun piercing through the trees.  Quickly the sun moved further below the horizon and the moment was over, replaced with the dark of night and a canopy of bright stars overhead.

Winter has been fickle this year – snow, more snow, thawing, ice, rain, sleet.  What will greet us in the morning is entirely up to Mother Nature.  But on a recent morning it was cold enough for frost to outline the trees and leaves, and cold enough for the snow to still be lovely and white.  The intense pink and magenta sunrise was fleeting and quickly gave way to fog and low clouds.  The wind was still and the air was silent as I stood by this creek, reflecting the trees and overcast sky as the water meandered through the outlet.

Wishing all of you experiences of joy and wonder in the upcoming new year!

The snow of winter has a way of draping its white over everything.  The trees become lined emphasizing their structure and branches.  The ground becomes white showing the curves and hips of hills.  At the University of Minnesota Saint Paul campus is a wonderful sculpture setting of cows.  These bigger than life animals are resting peacefully in their urban setting.  The snow has draped over them also, quietly emphasizing their repose and seeming indifference to the weather.  They’re a great reminder to me to accept the weather, accept the snow, and appreciate its beauty.

We’ve quickly moved from late fall to snowy winter.  The last two weeks have brought snowfall after snowfall, some were quite significant!  The forests and woods take on a whole new feeling with winter.  Stand still amongst the trees and there’s a quiet that surrounds you.  After a minute or so there’s a rustle in the remaining oak leaves that are now brittle with winter’s cold.  Eventually the birds ignore your presence and go about their singing and flitting from branch to branch.  The snow has marked the direction of the storm on the sides of the trees.  And as the sun clears the forest’s edge it lightens the entire area and sparkles off the whiteness all around.

The cold has settled in and the lakes are freezing.  Throughout the day I watched the clouds and the snow move in.  The wind would pick up and blow the snow down the lake, forming whirlwinds of white skimming the ice.  As quickly as the snow came in, then the sun would come out.  The ice would creak and moan as the heat from the sun combatted the cold of the ice.  There were sub-sonic groans that pierced the air.  And then the cycle would repeat – snow then sun then snow.  But before sunset the skies cleared and there was a beautiful and quiet full moonrise.  It lifted over the opposite shore and trees and eventually directed its light on the snow-covered and ice-cracked lake, littered with leaves now encased in the ice.

It was a cold and wintry day last Sunday that even included a snowfall.  We were inside looking out and not enjoying this winter weather in mid-May.  But it seemed to invigorate all the birds in the area as they were coming in and out of the yard, looking for food on the ground and in the feeders.  We put some orange slices in a hanging feeder and realized they were a magnet for the birds.  This Baltimore oriole became very vigilant in guarding what he saw as “his” oranges.  There were a number of Rose-breasted grosbeaks that challenged him, and only occasionally won the challenge.  All these birds were a welcome colorful sight on the cold drab day, and a delight to watch.

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