Trees of Winter

On this beautiful summer evening when the temperature is 80 degrees F, the humidity is low, and I’m surrounded by lush green leaves on trees and flowers blooming in my garden, it seems really strange – almost surreal, to be posting photos of winter trees. I have posted the trees of summer and fall for Becky’s July TreeSquares, now I am ready to post winter’s trees.

I love trees in winter, how snow collects on branches creating a stark contrast of white and black and the long shadows cast by the de-robed skeleton of trunk and branches by the low winter sun. I have emotional memories from childhood of being fascinated by the flicker of tree shadows through the car window as we drove down winter roads, like a 16 mm film. I am still intrigued by this magic of sun and shadow.

I don’t have much time to enjoy the trees of winter now that we spend most of it in Florida where there aren’t many deciduous trees. One of those trees is the bald cypress that I enjoy when we drive down the few dirt roads in the Everglades.

Looking Up

Last week-end we had a heavy snow – not very deep but wet and heavy with some ice under it. As I was walking up a long lane I made sure to look up every time I stopped to take some photos. Every few minutes I would hear a loud crack, somewhat like a gun shot, in the woods. When I looked in that direction, I would sometimes see a big limb falling and hitting the ground – sending up a big cloud of snow. I didn’t want to be under one of those limbs when the weight of the snow and ice caused them to crack and fall.

Thanks, Becky, for January Squares with the theme of “up”. Just think of a photograph depicting something relating very broadly to “up” and square it “up” before linking it to Becky’s post.

Now and Then

One month ago the tree in our side yard looked like this. A few leaves had fallen but there were still some leaves that were fading their green. This morning when I got up a little after 7:00 for our weekly run to the grocery I found…

And the tree in our side yard looks like this…

Between “then & now” seems like such a short time but so much has changed, at least outside of our home. Inside we continue to hunker down in place, not seeing other people and only going out for essential reasons.

I know I have the right to go out and do as I please – I have a right to be maskless, but I also know I can make choices. Because I have a choice I have control over so much more of what happens in my life than relying just on fate. Making choices involves thinking about the options, reading and listening to experts so I know what the potential consequences are of each option, and thinking about the consequences for the people I love most and for society at large. I also know that situations change and I can reconsider my choices as I receive new information.

I haven’t been listening to much of the political commentary on TV because of political and Covid fatigue but I did happen to click on Rachael Maddow the other night to hear this segment on Rachael’s lockdown because of coming in contact with someone who was positive and her experience of caring for her infected wife who she is living apart from because of their exposure; and her experience of their fear that Susan was going to die. I love Jim and my children more than I can communicate. Thank you, Rachael, for putting my choices in those terms. Please listen to her honest and difficult description of her life right now and her plea to all of us.

The Lens-Artist Challenge for this week is “Now and Then.” It inspired me to spend a few minutes outside taking some photographs this morning, but also has me thinking about how life has changed between then and now. It also gives me hope that now won’t be forever – now will move into something different. I no longer think about Mondays or Thursdays or Sundays. Most important, wedged between all the yesterdays and next-days, are my todays. Today I am going to live my life with contentment and satisfaction. I will focus on picking up my yesterday socks from my reading room floor, make the bed, have another cup of coffee and a small dish of apple crisp, dry the clothes in the washing machine, work on sewn Christmas presents for friends and family, and make some stir fry for supper.

How will you choose to spend your today?

Snow Birds

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It snowed during the night and lightly through the morning hours. Jim, after telling anyone who would listen during the past year about how he loves being a snowbird because he hates clearing the snow from the driveway, was out midmorning clearing the one inch of snow from the drive with his snowblower. He came in with a great big smile on his face, having clearly enjoyed being out in the snow. But I understand how clearing snow grows tedious come late February and March.

I spent a lot of time sitting at the dining room table watching the light snow falling, the snow blowing off the neighbor’s roof, and the birds at the feeders that Jim filled yesterday. I am feeling very relaxed as the Christmas decorations are down and I’m just tidying up as we prepare to fly south in a couple of days. My tidying up includes deleting and tagging 2019 photos, starting with my November ones from Naples Botanical Garden. I haven’t gotten far because I keep returning to the dining room and the birds.

I really enjoyed reading and viewing Susan Rushton‘s post this week where she published many of the photos that she loves from her 2019 garden photography but never found their way into a blog. I think I will be doing the same for the next few weeks, starting with some orchids. Orchids are somewhat difficult to photograph so most of my attempts get deleted. Here are some photos that seem to capture the exotic beauty that I see when I view them growing in the garden.

 

A Winter’s Walk

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We had a good amount of snow during the last half of December, a couple of inches or so falling every day to keep the landscape, including roads and walks, covered with a fresh, light blanket. One morning I grabbed my camera to record the snow on my front garden… after putting on long underwear under my cords, a sweatshirt over my long-sleeved tee, a fiber-filled jacket, scarf, hat & hood, light gloves, and my warmest shoes. Sigh.

The mid-morning sun was hanging low in the south-east sky casting very long navy shadows over the diamond-dust-studded snow. It was so cold —- so cold it was hard to feel any warmth from the sun on my face as I closed my eyes and faced it head-on. My nose is always the first get cold, just before my entire exposed face feels the bite. This was a still day without even a whiff of moving air so the extreme cold didn’t feel as threatening,¬† as dangerous.

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A deer run into the vacant lot across the street from our home.

I decided to start down the drive towards the snow-covered road, mindful that walking on snow in a 73 year old body is dangerous. For stability I used that unique walk that is used, that is learned early in life, when walking on slippery surfaces. It took my total focus as I gingerly made my way down the declining slope of our drive, my senses only focused on my orientation to the ground and the sound of my steps as they crunched the lightly layered flakes of snow. When I stopped at the bottom to congratulate myself on my progress (it really is a relatively short distance) I took time to listen hard. I listened to the hushed silence that comes with cold and snow, only to hear the occasional muted sounds of tires squeaking over snow-packed roads.

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The extreme cold results in a dry snow, the type of snow that is loosely bound together. Not a good snow for making snowmen or snowballs – for building snow walls to crouch behind in a serious snowball fight. On this day I was happy to experience these through my memories, but I felt the excited pull to do a little walking in the neighborhood. I don’t think the neighbor’s carved bear climbing the trunk of an old oak tree shared my excitement with the snow.

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I didn’t walk far as I felt the cold seep through my clothes, making the muscles around my titanium knees stiffen, but what joy I experienced as I viewed the unique sites of the winter landscape.

I have lived through winters for so many years so my excitement surprises me when diamond dust starts floating in the air. I stand silent and watch, alone in the silence. My attempt to capture a digital image is fruitless… maybe there are some things that we need to enjoy in the moment without trying to make them ours.

Winter is a wonderful place to visit – but be sure to bring lots of layers of clothes. I’ll furnish the hot chocolate.
Or you can visit vicariously.