A Nippily Michigan Morning


“Nature has a great simplicity and, therefore, a great beauty. ” – Richard Feynm

I was looking forward to my return to Michigan so I could go out with Julie on our early morning excursions down dirt roads. One of the blessings of winter in the northern half of the northern hemisphere is that morning doesn’t come as early – nothing much happens in a camera lens before 8:00.

What I discovered, however, is that I have somewhat of a disconnect in my brain. I have lived through 70 winters in Michigan so I know how cold it can get. But when I was thinking about winter photography in Michigan, as I was floating in the pool in southern Florida, I somehow combined Michigan summer, with Florida winter, and snowy fields.

MSU Bird Sanctuary 138-2

When I put on my ear muffs and gloves at the Michigan State University Bird Sanctuary (our first outing) and walked down the path to the ponds, I felt the wake-up call of a Michigan winter morning.

And my senses did wake up. Anyone who lives in the cold knows it has a special scent. Maybe I smelled the lingering traces of snow. There were little piles of it that I almost missed because there was so much more to see on the bare winter landscape.

I closed my eyes as I felt the chill against my face. And I listened to the stillness, the only sound being the Trumpet Swans that we came to see.MSU Bird Sanctuary 035-2

A little giggle escaped as I experienced memory stacked on memory of this special kind of cold on an almost-still, clear winter morning. My eyes teared up from joy – or maybe from the cold.

20141211-DSC_0417More joy came on the next week’s slightly colder, frosty morning drive down dirt roads. Everything looks different in the soft winter sun, sitting low in the south. Frost outlines fallen leaves and perches upon seed pods.



What amazes me most on a sunny winter day is the color. The endless cloudy days cast a dingy pallor on the land that is lifted with a rising sun. The ordinary looks very different when the green of summer has turned to gold and brown and orange. These colors are contrasted with the blues of frosty shadows.

Except for the occasional deer, Canadian Goose, raccoon or squirrel, the world stands still in a northern winter. Not much is happening as the earth waits for the sun to get higher in the sky and the jet stream to move back to Canada. I remember all those years when winter called me to hibernation, a slowing down as I waited for the gradual changes that indicated that winter was moving towards spring.

I must be in the winter of my life, because now I hear the call of the snow birds bidding me to fly south to wait out the long, still, silence of winter. But I do enjoy a few nippily winter mornings.

I found the quote at Heather’s blog, Our Adventures Up North. She lives up toward Traverse City where they get more lake-effect snow off Lake Michigan and colder temperatures. She is a hiker and a great photographer who shares the Northern Michigan landscape with her readers. You will enjoy visiting her.


15 thoughts on “A Nippily Michigan Morning

  1. There is something special about winter. It reveals its beauty in a much more subtle way, and only to those who look. Your photos are beautiful Pat – you’ve captured the quiet serenity perfectly. Enjoy your snowbird time!


  2. There’s a special pristine beauty about winter, so monochromatic and silent. I love it though I don’t fancy the cold either. Yes! It is the winter of our lives and all is good and as it should be.

    Wishing you every blessing for the season and for the new year, Pat. Have so enjoyed visiting with you and sharing thoughts and ideas over this past year and look forward to more in 2015.

    Warmest regards,


    • Very well put! It is just so long. It is definitely 5 months long and can go close to 6 months. That is half a year of winter. I’m sure you have heard the saying – we have 4 months; early winter, winter, late winter, and the 4th of July.


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