The winter solstice has passed, which means that we are truly in the depths of winter now. Although it’s hard for me to believe that, since this December has been relatively warm, and we have had more rain than snow. Almost every day of the month has been foggy and grey. It feels more like the beginning of spring than the beginning of winter. So it is good to look back at photos of past winters, and remember that this season is not always like this.
This is what I think of when I think of winter: brilliantly bright skies and shimmering white snow.
But a little bit of fog can be beautiful too. Here, a thin layer of fog clings to the valley below my home and is illuminated from above by the sun.
Winter is not my favourite season, but in a way it is the most important season of all. Much of the rest of the year is spent preparing for it: animals raise their young, store food away, prepare for hibernation, or migrate in the warm months, while plants drop their leaves and enter dormancy before winter arrives. Other plants and animals cannot survive here at all because the winters are too cold. The landscape itself has been shaped by what was the longest winter of all – the most recent ice age which ended only about ten thousand years ago.
The bright red mountain ash berries provide a food source for many animals in the winter months – and a festive spot of colour in the monochromatic landscape.
In winter, Bohemian Waxwings (which spend the summer well to the north of my region) come south and form large flocks, roaming the countryside in search of food (such as the mountain ash berries above). One of my favourite sights of winter is seeing the entire sky literally filled with a flock of these birds. My photo and words cannot begin to describe how amazing this experience truly is.
Other birds live here all year, such as this elegantly attired Black-capped Chickadee. Chickadees are among my favourite birds, as they always seem so bold and cheerful, even on the most miserable winter days.
I am thankful for evergreen trees (such as this spruce), as they keep their needles throughout the winter. I like to be able to see something green outdoors in the winter, and I find it no wonder that evergreens have long been used as decorations at this time of year to represent eternal life.
One of my favourite trees, the western redcedar, is sometimes even known as the “tree of life.”
In another month or so, the days will be getting noticeably longer and I will be looking ahead to spring. But for now, I am still dreaming of at least a few days of that perfect winter.
Snowshoeing is one of my favourite winter activities, although I didn’t get to do it last winter since we didn’t have enough snow. Maybe this year, but this winter does not look very promising yet…
Dreaming of a winter wonderland…
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