With a quick plummet of the temperatures we are now in winter. Our unusually long and temperate autumn has disappeared. The ducks and geese have departed for warmer areas and open water. Only the oak trees are hanging on to their brittle brown leaves, rattling in the cold wind. The ground is starting to freeze, the snow is starting to fall, and the ice is forming. There’s a hush that settles in during winter — a peace and quiet all its own.
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.
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.
It was a cold day with a temperature of 16 degrees, but the sun was shining brilliantly and beckoned us outside. We packed our snowshoes and went to Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary in northwest Wisconsin. The wind was brisk, but if we could snowshoe along the tree line there was a welcome wind break. There was even protection from the wind as we headed across the prairie, and in the valleys of the steep hills we could bask in the sun’s heat. It was late afternoon so the sun threw its shadows across the landscape at a sharp angle. We soaked up the sun and the crisp fresh air of the day and enjoyed the exercise.
I awoke last weekend to an amazing winter wonderland. The air was cold and still and everything was coated with white hoarfrost. The tree branches were outlined in frost, each individual leaf was outlined, and everything was shining white. I wandered the nearby roads and saw pine trees and shrubs, oak trees and weather vanes, all outlined in white. Even though our snow pack had gotten old and not-so-white, the hoarfrost brightened the entire landscape and gave it a magical look.