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.

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.

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.