The belly of winter

February seems to mark the coldest temperatures of our winter, and that has certainly been true for this year. We are lucky to get above zero during the day, and our nighttime cold extends into the teens and twenties below zero. This is the belly of winter – the depths of winter – the take-your-breath-away time of winter. The sun casts long shadows over a landscape covered in snow. The blue sky is lovely but the wind howls and picks up any fresh snow, twirling it in the air and repositioning it with abandon. It’s a time to appreciate basic comforts like warm boots and clothes, furnaces and heat, and the knowledge that in a few months we will crawl out of this belly and eventually into spring.

Snowy landscape

Our winter landscape has fluctuated as much as the temperatures have been up and down. Each weekend we get a freshening of snow and then we get a bit of a warm up that creates some thawing and ice, and then it’s followed by the same routine the next weekend. And the forecast is much the same for this weekend. But this roller coaster ride seems to be keeping most people happy – the ones that love the snow and the ones that prefer the warmer temperatures. The fresh snow keeps our scenery fresh and lovely, and gives me a renewed appreciation for winter.

A brief winter sunrise

The snow had started to fall at sunset the previous day and continued all night.  The morning dawned quiet and lovely with the fresh snow blanketing the landscape.  The clouds had remained thick and then there was a brief opening, long enough for the sun to penetrate the cloud cover with its hazy rays for less than a minute.  The sun disappeared behind the clouds, the snow began again, and this brief scene was the only sunshine for the day.

Dawn and the waning moon

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.