Winter’s Unique Beauty

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Winter is a season of frosty, frigid, and snowy weather resulting in many additional tasks of exertion and drudgery.  But, if one can overlook and disregard these bothersome inconveniences, and look beyond them, they will discover a beauty difficult to replicate in other seasons.

A field blanketed with snow, as if enveloped by a white down comforter, conceals the features of topography while insulating that which lies beneath, resulting in a new landscape much different than during other seasons.  Shadows are longer and prevaricate and exaggerate the true stature of shapes being replicated.  Although the season is harsh, there is a softness to the surroundings.

The woods stripped of its foliage, like the curtains from a window, appear larger, more spacious, and easier to navigate.  The bright, vibrant, colors are gone.  But a new pallet of peaceful and neutral tones and shades provide a scene reminiscent of a black and white photo, where shadows and tints tell the story.

A snow covered branch resembles an outstretched arm covered by a diminutive quilt to shield and insulate it from a cold gust of wind.  Drifts of snow can create forms that disguise or misrepresent what actually lies beneath.  A ramble through a field of snow only inches deep can suddenly deepen considerably with little forewarning that a drift is in your path.

There is a peacefulness about winter.  Yet there is a dichotomy between the silence and the sounds.  The silence of winter is almost a sound within itself.  Sometimes the tranquility of the quiescence deceives one into almost believing that the absence of sound is a sound.  Much like the sound of no sound you hear when you place your ear close to a large shell.  And yet the real sounds are clear and crisp.  The mere crunch of frozen snow beneath your feet can be resounding in the encompassing quietude.

There is no one who, at some point in their life, has not been in awe of the spectacle of the snow flake.  Each one different, yet similar, accumulating in a blanket of white.  Who has not had one land on an eye lash or be caught by an outstretched tongue?  The enchanting delight of falling snow flakes can entrance the young and old alike.

The ice formations of winter are a delight to behold.  The formation of a single icicle, created by the simple freezing of dripping water.  It dangles like a translucent dagger, prepared to pierce the snow beneath when dislodged from its berth of origin.  A precipice can become a sculpture of ice as layer upon layer of frozen leakage builds upon itself forming a hue of blue, changing constantly as the overlapping coatings progress.  Streams are transformed from a brisk movement of water to a stationary carpet of snow covered ice.  Although the current continues below, the surface above becomes a continuation of the surrounding features.

Life beneath the snow continues.  The moles and mice burrow tunnels under the blanket of snow providing a labyrinth of passage much like the subways beneath a city.  Plant life. such as the common chickweed, continue their existence and can provide a winter snack if the location beneath the snow is known.

Winter, like all seasons, is a time unto itself.  Different, yet splendid, it its own right.  It is a time for a unique beauty that only winter can bestow.

Copyright © 2013 by John D. McCann

This essay is an excerpt from my book “The Layers of Life: Thoughts on Nature, Living, and Self-Reliance.  You can purchase a signed copy HERE or a print or kindle copy at Amazon HERE.

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