Friday, February 5, 2021

Winter Wonderland

As I a write this, we’ve had a month of interesting weather, with more on the way. We’ve had several forms of precipitation, leaving behind much snow and ice on sidewalks and some of the lesser travelled roads and streets. Before the latest Arctic blast, it finally starting to melt, making it easier to drive my favorite backroads to work and walk my dogs around town. Before that, I was getting tired of the babystep workout, never knowing which sidewalks would be clear, and which would be a pile of hard packed snow and ice. I just tried to remain an upright position, which was challenging at times, when we’ve had layer upon layer of several forms of precipitation, including days and days of frozen fog.

We’ve only had a few days of actual sunshine lately, which I know can be gloomy for some. I’ve learned to appreciate gloomy days as much as bright and sunny days, but even I was getting a little sick of the total fog we had for so long. From sun up to sundown, nothing but fog—assuming we could actually see the sun, which we could not. However, one day, while driving to work, I was wondering how I would ever get there with the very murky fog that morning. A few seconds later, I drove up and down a hill, the fog lifted, and the sun not only peeked through the clouds, but shone brightly. Reflecting off the snow, ice, and hoar frost, it was an amazing site.

As you may know by now, I entertain myself and find peace during these turbulent times (and yes, 2021, is starting off to be just as interesting as 2020 was!) by photographing our local natural beauty. This year I began in my backyard, taking photo after photo of almost every combination of snow, ice, and hoar frost on the trees and shrubs in my yard. The herbaceous plants had been trimmed back for the season, other than the shorter prairie grasses in my landscaping, of which I did photograph. Since we are fortunate enough to have a wind and privacy break of Colorado Blue Spruce and Norway Spruce I began by taking pictures of these conifers. Their branches laden with snow and ice, they made a spectacular site.

I then moved on to the deciduous trees. The derecho in August did a number on some of them, but I was still able snap several photos of remaining trees and shrubs.

From here I branched out. I decided to photograph my favorite trees, white oaks, that look beautiful, even leafless in the middle of the winter. There are a few in town that are single and solitary, so they have much room to really spread their wings—or branches. With the foggy background, snow, and dark branches, these pictures look like they were taken in black and white, but they were actually taken in color. I found some oak leaves still on the branches, and zoomed in on the leathery leaves, sparkling with hoar frost, even in the gloom.

The day the sun finally shone, I was fortunate enough to have my camera with me. Once I arrived at work, I snuck a few pictures of the Rock Island Trail, prairie plants near the office, and the pin oak near the back door. They were all gorgeous, with the blazing sun, blue sky, and trees and plants covered with snow, ice, and frost. 

If this past year has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate my surroundings and all the everyday things we may normally take for granted. Exploring local nature with my trusty camera has opened my eyes to the natural beauty that surrounds us, whether we notice it or not.