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Today is December 6, 2022


Nature’s beauty abundant in winter’s austerity

Nature’s beauty abundant in winter’s austerity

Late-autumn sunrise over Trace State Park Lake. Winter is on its way. Photo: Tony Kinton

Winter dominates. Few are those pleasant days that beckon one to venture into wild places away from warmth and shelter. Gone are those spectacular color shows of autumn. Spring blossoms are yet too distant to quicken hopes for change. Some might argue that there is nothing to see apart from obvious austerity.
    And there is some truth in that. Save the odd beech or oak that has clung tenaciously to its foliage, leaves are gone. Even those remaining are brown and curled. But beauty remains. It comes more in the form of light and shadow than it previously did in color. Properly set on the horizon at sunrise or sunset, even those naked arms and fingers of big timber afford an alluring portrait, haunting though it may be. It all comes down to what the observer looks for and sees.
     Consider an early-morning field or woods edge or lawn covered with frost. It dances and sparkles and is filled with motion, with life of a different sort not available at any other time. As sunlight pushes misty tentacles through bare branches and kisses the ground, a gradual unfolding of majesty occurs. The frost at first reflects that light in twinkling diamonds that stir the senses. This may prompt an unexpected exhaling of excited breath, which rises toward heaven in a gleeful fog. Then the frost is slowly transformed. It gives off a smoky salute and vanishes in a sigh of warmth. Short lived, to be sure, but simply too marvelous to miss.
    Look, also, to a late afternoon. Day ends in a grand display of orange red. These settings, if listened to carefully, speak. Their proclamation can be sober, painting the passing of time. But they can also be comforting, a time for reflection. And like their opposites of 10 hours earlier, they are too good, too important to miss.
    So, if the austerity of winter becomes overpowering and drives you to a search for beauty, bundle up and go outside. Listen intently. Watch judiciously. Beauty is at the core of even a winter’s day.

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