Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Missing Snow, Finding Beauty

When I return home from hiking in the wintry north I often feel at a loss for a few days. I miss being in the midst of snow-covered spruce where snowshoe hare tracks bound across the soft powder and sometimes the only sound I hear is my heart thumping.
This winter especially it seems so dull back home where the bare ground is covered in decaying brown leaves, the trails ice-covered, and the woods empty of snow.

Thus, this morning I set out on a nearby trail to find beauty amidst the brown and the gray. Kodi always finds joy, whether he is rolling around on hard-packed snow at 4,300 feet or sniffing about in the dead leaves at sea level. Today, to his delight, he found a small piece of deer bone. I too was delighted by what I found on our walk, when I really looked again at the woods and the wetlands. Even the common sights and sounds and the subtle colors of a brown mid-winter's day were lovely when I stopped to look and listen and absorb.

Oaks and pines cast long shadows across the frozen marsh

A flock of noisy crows flies across the wetland, over the still silent heron nests

Wooden nest boxes await the return of cavity-nesting wood ducks and hooded mergansers

Rock and reindeer lichens look healthy in their respective habitats bathed in a warm winter sun
A turkey vulture soared effortlessly and silently on its bowed wings overhead, while the soft notes of a foraging nuthatch floated over from a nearby red oak. I was shielded from the wind as I watched the nuthatch creep along a thick branch in search of insects. I'm sure the nuthatch prefers the snow free woods, and today it felt good to me too.


  1. Ellen, perhaps we would concur that it would be most unpleasant to have winters such as this become the "norm". However, like you, I'm trying to find some positive aspects. Just a few days ago I was remarking to my friend Marty that most likely we would have been unable to do our recent trek to Carr Mountain in a normal NH winter. The trail probably would have been unbroken, and it would've required a Herculean effort for the two of us to break out the trail all the way to the top. However, in this "winter of our discontent", we were easily able to do this trek by only wearing our Microspikes.

    Thanks for sharing another delightful experience in your posting!


  2. Hi John. Yes, great point about easier to get around and since it has still been relatively cold the wetlands are frozen, mostly. I am currently reading "Wherever You Go There You Are" which is also a reminder to enjoy every day, every place. Ellen