Winter Roads

Massive backups and multiple crashes on snow-packed highways. Traffic-choked mountain towns and ski areas. I’m not taking about those kinds of winter roads—I’m talking about getting away from them. Out where things are quiet and peaceful, where schedules and cellphones take a back seat to the wonders of nature.

Double the beauty with the reflections in the hood, find a nice place for a picnic, and be patient with others using the road (even if they drive like a bunch of turkeys).

Polly says to take a friend who enjoys winter, too.

Cabins of Winter

Polly decided taxes and book work are boring and that we needed a break. I agreed. She said, “Road trip!” I agreed. She’s a wise dog and knows life is too short not to get out there and enjoy what we love doing the most: taking the camera for a hike and a picnic. Even in the winter. Especially in the winter.

We love the history of old cabins, mines, ghost towns, and other lonely places. Winter is a wonderful time to visit them. It’s when the temperatures drop and the snow closes in that you get a real appreciation for a snug little cabin, with its promise of shelter and warmth. After the hustle and bustle of summer tourists and fall color peepers, when everything is a silent drift of white, those voices from the past can once again be heard drifting from the gaps in the chinking.

Who was here before us? Miners, perhaps. Maybe settlers, homesteaders, and ranchers. Those for whom a cabin meant the difference between life and death when it was 20 degrees below zero, there were several feet of snow on the ground, and the nearest town was miles away.

Be still and listen. The wind rattles the branches and hisses snow over the ground. Frost turns a rusted piece of barbwire into a twist of shining crystals. The memories are still here in the crumbling logs and dirt floors. Each one has a story to tell. Listen, and you just might hear it on the breeze.

A short word to the wise about visiting these places. Never trespass. Know where you are and if you don't, take your shots from a distance. Be respectful. Unlived in doesn't mean abandoned. Don't take anything except pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

A New Year Begins

May your coming year be filled with grand adventures and someone special to share them with.

Wild places to revel in, get lost in, and find yourself in.

Sweet friends and sweet dreams.

May you have four seasons of love, laughter, joy, and peace. I hope you dream big and then set goals to make those dreams come true. Above all, Polly and I wish you a dog kind of New Year. Celebrate each moment for what it is, show unconditional love for those around you, and find time to smell the flowers.

Birds of a Feather

During winter, when wildlife can be hard to find, there’s always plenty of action to be found around the bird feeders. Big birds, small birds, noisy birds, quiet birds. Each has its own unique personality and we love to watch them all. Their interactions, relationships, and pecking order are fascinating to observe.

Some don’t even have feathers, but are more than happy to take advantage of a free snack.

And others don’t come for seed, but that’s okay. It’s all part of nature’s cycle of predator and prey. A cycle as old as life itself. A cycle we can witness at the backyard bird feeder.

As Exciting As Watching Water Freeze

Sometimes winter seems about as exciting as watching the paint dry, or the grass grow, or the water freeze… Wait a second. Watching water freeze is exciting. Granted it doesn’t have the drama of a heavy spring runoff, a summer cloudburst, or a flashflood. Freeze up is subtle, quiet. The beauty of it can be easy to overlook, but it’s there. It sneaks in on cold winter nights and leaves little gifts for those who take the time to find them.

I sat by the little waterfall to watch the spray freeze and coat the rocks and twigs, turning them into shining crystal sculptures.

It is a joy to hike to the lake and check the advance of the ice.

 

If streams and lakes aren’t in the immediate vicinity, then step out front door on a sunny morning to catch the play of light in the icicles hanging from the eave or on a frozen puddle in the yard.

The wonder of winter is there and getting out to find it takes the boredom out of winter in a heartbeat. Just ask Polly.