Winter has a way of changing things. Anyone who lives in Wisconsin knows this. It’s cold, the days seem shorter because of the lack of light and the outside world transforms from green fields and bright blue skies to white and gray. We’ve heard this time of year being described at bleak, dreary and blah. I’m here to tell you that you could really be missing out on the beauty that winter has to offer.
We’re fortunate to be able to experience all four seasons in Wisconsin. I believe it really helps us appreciate each season for what it is. When spring arrives, we enjoy the new-found warmth, summer is a time for fun, fall provides us with brilliant colors and the harvest of a successful spring and summer and winter gives us time to reflect and plan.
What I enjoy most about winter is the blanket of beauty that it covers us in. It will take places familiar to us and change the way they look and feel, adding a new excitement every time you step out your door. Just because you’ve been somewhere hiking or backpacking during the warmer months, doesn’t mean you should ignore or avoid those same places during winter.
I suggest you begin your experience by going to a location that you’re well acquainted with. You may be surprised how different everything can and will look. Plus, it’s a great way to rediscover what made you enjoy this location in the first place. The ground is white and crunches under your feet with that familiar sound that only people who live in snow country know. You can see movement of birds and small animals more quickly because the camouflage of summer is gone. It’s also easier to track them with a blanket of fresh fallen snow. When you look up, you’ll see a sky with a blue color that only comes around during the winter. You’ve been here before, but now it seems so different.
As a photographer, one thing that really excites me about winter are those frosty damp mornings. A fog may have settled in earlier in the night and as the sun slowly comes up, it lifts and covers everything with a thick layer of frost. When this happens, I grab my camera and head out the door. The best part is I don’t have to go too far, usually my backyard is full of opportunities to capture everything that’s been covered in a beautiful layer of frost. They’re images that you only get during the winter months. Get out and take advantage of these rare times.
During the other seasons, our maple, oak, elm and other variations of trees really take center stage. We get excited about seeing the first buds of spring, cool off in their shade during the summer and marvel at their colors in the fall. We pretty much ignore our evergreen friends during those times. Winter is a time to showcase those spruce, fir and pine trees. In my opinion, nothing says winter wonderland more than new fallen snow sitting heavy on an evergreen tree. Whether you’re driving down the road or hiking through the woods, the beauty of winter comes out in full force by showcasing itself on the arms of the majestic trees.
The point I’m trying to make is to not push aside the beauty that surrounds us in winter. Sure, we can complain how bleak and dreary everything seems to be. Winter has this special way of surprising you. Each new layer of snow can add a whole new look to the world around you. But you have to get out and really look around to appreciate the special way to showcases itself. So, plan a day hike to a familiar place. Don’t be afraid to go back a few times throughout the winter season. As more snow is added with each snowfall, you’ll discover the shear beauty of winter’s way.