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Nature In Winter

"This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field."
-- From "Snowflakes," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

As I walked yesterday in the woods, and as I reflected on the walk and reviewed my pictures, I thought about the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the emotions, the cycle of life. We are now in the depths of winter, when Nature is naked and exposed. The world is a tangle of coiled slim branches and dead leaves. The season has resonated with my sense of profound depression -- emotional nakedness and fragility. If I step on the thin ice, it might break. If I feel, I might cry and not stop.

What can I learn from Nature in this season? From my walks, I feel a sense of pride in the great quietness, a pride in simply, stubbornly, surviving. Tree roots reach out deep into the soil and grip a firm foothold to withstand the brutal winds; I am fascinated by them. The season of enormous desolation can also be seen as a time of inward-looking solitude, of not caring about hiding anything from anyone. A time not only of fragility but of beauty, when there is not only numbness -- the chill in the heart -- but also the intense pain that comes from loving deeply. While the pain is almost unbearable at times, it means I am, for one more season, alive.

I look long at the water in the creek and see reflections that are fragile but lovely. I look at myself and try to see the same. The snow and ice cover some of the creek, but the blue water peeks out as well. Walk the trail long enough, and I will hear the soft rush and gurgling of the living stream, even in January.

The quality of the light is wondrous on winter days -- casting vivid shadows in the morning, the pure pale warmth resting on the landscape in mid-afternoon, the setting sun burning through the trees and scorching a trail of light on the water as evening draws near.

Winter lends a wonderful geometry to places that might be dismissed as ugly or simply inconsequential. I find myself riveted by shorelines that are the intersection of snow-flecked mud and stones, or dead leaves, and the jagged icy margin of the creek. I stare at the intricate ridges in tree trunks, whether they stand sentry by the stream, or rest on their sides by the trail, the ridges lined and accented with snow. Beyond the ice, I can peer into the water's clarity at the larger stones at the bottom.

The rebirth of spring and the lush greenery of summer seem impossibly far away. Between now and then, I have a lot more walking and thinking to do.

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 3rd, 2009 10:19 am (UTC)
This was one of fudgelady's better efforts. BTW, this is her husband. I am going to try and convince her to submit it to either a poetry essay or as an editorial piece in some newspaper.
Jan. 3rd, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
The pictures are really beautiful and they complement your words perfectly.

Fragile...that is an adjective I struggle with as I fight my fight with Depression. I don't WANT to be fragile. But sometimes I feel that way. Can I accept the beauty of fragility? Maybe that's the lesson I'm supposed to be learning right now.

BTW...how did you happen to find my blog? Always curious how people find me!
Jan. 4th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
Re: Beautiful
Thanks for the kind words! And it's great to have you here.

I found your blog via Tracy at Maternally Challenged.
Jan. 3rd, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
Nice....pictures and prose both.... Where were you? I took kids yesterday to Perk Trail...looks like we could have crossed paths!! Flushed out a great blue heron before we knew it was there, but then found another one fishing along the creek and then wading to the protected shoreline for some r&r... Great blues are one of my all time favorites and seem to be flourishing.....
Jan. 4th, 2009 04:42 am (UTC)
Welcome (whoever you are :-) )! Did you get a pic of the great blue?

I was at Evansburg State Park yesterday, near Collegeville.
Jan. 4th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
Giggles here! Got pictures of the great blue...but not great ones...didn't want to scare it away from its resting spot....
Jan. 5th, 2009 06:13 am (UTC)
Did you see that Nina at Nature Remains got a shot of a great blue? Check it out... :-)
Jan. 7th, 2009 05:26 am (UTC)
Beautiful pictures and writing Linda -- I got the link to your journal from the waldenlist on yahoo groups and although I hardly ever post anything there (i'm so intimidated! haha) I feel more at home saying something personally here to you :P

You said:
"What can I learn from Nature in this season? From my walks, I feel a sense of pride in the great quietness, a pride in simply, stubbornly, surviving. Tree roots reach out deep into the soil and grip a firm foothold to withstand the brutal winds; I am fascinated by them."

Did you know that tree roots also grow year round? Even when the trees go dormant in the winter the roots are still seeking and growing. I think that furthers the fascination? eh? Sorry if that is common knowledge to you -- I just read about it the other day and immediately thought of this when reading your words.

Also you end this post: "The rebirth of spring and the lush greenery of summer seem impossibly far away."

Do you ever have any "indian summer" days there in PA? when the temperature comes up over 60 or so and it seems as if even for a moment summer is coming back? I'm located in St. Louis, MO and we had a beautiful day of the sort last week. I work outside as a landscaper and it was such blessing. I'm so thankful to be outside daily -- to see the sky and feel the wind, as well as the occasional photographic moment, although I could do without the tiring labor haha.

Also, I thought we were having another "indian summer" over the weekend only to go outside to run and find a chilly arctic breeze :\ My girlfriend is from another latitude entirely and commonly goes outside on sunny days leaving her coat behind, haha. Perhaps in her spirit, or in the spirit of the sun, we can appreciate the spring and summer being nearer?

Anyway, beautiful pictures and thanks again for sharing. I wish I had something of the sort to share in return. Perhaps I can share a few from last winter -- I'll need to access my external hard drive...

-Cody (crhx8484@yahoo.com or crhx84@gmail.com)

Jan. 8th, 2009 06:29 am (UTC)
Thanks, Cody, and welcome!

I didn't know that about tree roots -- makes perfect sense, but I never thought about it.

We definitely have some wonderful Indian Summer days here -- the latest one was in the last week or two, when it was 66 for one day. Hubby and I sailed out the door in our winter coats, then realized we were too hot and threw the coats in the back seat!

Any time you want to send or post nature pix, I'd love to see them!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )