Walking in a Winter Wonderland

bot gards jan 2013 (39)

We have a notion of what winter looks like–snow and ice and skies that pierce our eyeballs with their blue clarity. Certainly winter can look like that–and sometimes does here in the southern Highlands of Appalachia.

But more often it looks more like the photo above–deciduous trees as sleek and tall as runway models, their every limb perfect against the horizon. The leaf-fall from autumn has begun its mulching process and the creeks run clear and full–a sharp contrast to the dry days of late summer.

It is the perfect time for a brisk walk in nature and getting to know the whys and wherefores of your place in winter.

This photo was taken at the Botanical Gardens here in Asheville, a lovely old place which includes a log cabin and a spring house and the remains of the Civil Way Battle of Asheville. Earthworks only now–barely able to make out, even in the winter.

Being outside now also gives you the hopeful brightness of the bits of spring that are to come. You can learn what trees and other plants look like when they are leafless, which is a handy skill to have. You can enjoy the wyrdness of seed pods and watch birds that stay in the area no matter what.

I love to be outside on a cold, clear day–and I also like them sunny and windless. Even though we don’t have winters like the ones in my childhood, that winter wind has a way of getting through the thickest wool and finding that vulnerable place that chills my whole body.

I recommend learning the place that is your place in all of its seasons–both large and small. And start now–while the world is so very fine.

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