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.

Frost and snow

With snow and temperatures below freezing our winter seems to be more “winter-like” now. We’ve enjoyed many mornings of freezing fog that coats the trees and vegetation with frost and a layer of white. With this rime ice the landscape seems magical, as if Mother Nature has used a paint brush and coated every branch with white. When the sun has appeared (which hasn’t been often) there’s been a beautiful contrast with the blue sky and the ice giving us that “winter wonderland” sensation.

For me this appreciation of the beauty of nature has been an escape from the sad events and turmoil that have roiled our country. I hope each of you has found a moment of peace, whether in nature, with friends, pets, or in the quiet of your own mind.

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.

A quiet repose in winter

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.