- Many winters at this latitude, a kind of natural depression sets in, partly from cabin fever, partly just from short days, and, this year, from depressing events beyond our control. We all try to escape at such moments, some on trips to farther, sunnier locales, others by participating in local carnivals and shows.
- Nature provides an escape, as always, even in deepest winter. We are fortunate to possess and be able to afford warmer clothing than any other time in history. Even under feet of snow, the outward world shows details and abundance. From stalwart trees with branches swaying gracefully, to local birds already engaging in the preliminaries of mating season, there are things to see.
- And, of course, we should be grateful to maintain our normal rituals and comforts no matter what. Electricity provides its various wonders, and the rhythms of work and family are hardly disturbed. Even nature lovers on the coldest days can spend an hour in a warm car at a beach or overlook, rejuvenating their souls with vistas promising season to come, remembrances past.
- The days already grow longer. The harshest grip of winter is passing quickly. Thoughts already turn to what must be done next, as seed catalogs arrive promising their impossible wonders.
- We, too, are promising ourselves the impossible. But nature has already accomplished it.
- Sometimes it seems that winter holds less promise to enjoy the natural world than other seasons. Oh, there are spectacles enough _ fantastic sunsets, cracking ice floes, deep snow with branches somehow bent double, even wintry frigid gales somehow braved by fat doves. But the everyday glories of veined leaves and dramatic flowers are missing. Somehow dull blueish lichen and brilliant greens of sea-moss are not in the same league. Eventually it is hoped that better times will arrive.
- Yet I find by February there are infinite things to experience on a winter beach _ even without being a biological expert like Charlton Ogburn _ that will easily fill an hour peaceful study, if I have the fortitude and dress warmly. Sealife remains mostly inaccessible, except as revealed by gulls happily cracking shells for dinner or feasting on a fish carcass. There are the comical tiny bufflehead flocks diving and dashing off in unison, gigantic swans pairing and taking off on awesome noisy flights, universally common geese as always standing around until they feel a need to stretch wings, and an occasional cormorant who ignores his surroundings like any old monk. Male ducks are already beginning to cut each other off from possible mates. Once in a while a brave egret or two can be seen judging the current possibilities for something to eat in unfrozen shallows. A wonderful time to spend time, too often ignored, I think, in our frantic search for the rare and unusual.
- Avoid fantasy, deal with reality.
- According to latest research, reality itself may be fantasy.
- Only those who have time and inclination can make use of truly escaping to nature. For most of our lives we are scheduled into obligations of work, commuting, shopping, family. These cannot be ignored, and precious few moments _ as well as no energy at all _ are left for staring at sunsets or walking through groves of trees.
- I always tried to take the time at work to spend my lunch break outside even in the worst weather. Of course there was little enough natural in the vast deserts of industrial parks, but always the sky, the air, a tree or two, and ubiquitous weeds. If nothing else, they could mark the days and the seasons and remind me that there was more to life than fluorescent lighting, computer screens, and angry motorists.
- Now I have time enough, and a laid-back attitude. So I compose here, vainly preaching to those who cannot use it anyway _ just as I could never heed such advice in my younger days. These notes are a kind of journal of thoughts, and in that I am no worse than many of the professional writers, journalists, and videographers _ who often have escaped the wheel of industrialism themselves _ and who vicariously allow us also to escape to nature and exotic lands without leaving our couch.
- Although this is not a daily events blog, it seemed a bow to nature was in order this morning. The first picture of the day was in fact taken yesterday when it was 55 degrees out. The picture above is from this morning at 31 degrees in the middle of a blizzard which will dump around 15 inches in the area. A different, but interesting, kind of natural escape.
- With the lack of cold and storms this winter in Huntington, walking in the woods has been more an issue of avoiding mud than tramping thr
ough snow. Sports enthusiasts are quite disappointed. Everyone else, not so much. Already in some places, a hike through the undergrowth reveals that a lot of green leaves remain from last year. As always, various rose bushes are putting out new growth.
- Although boring in concept, these unspectacular views allow contemplation of the rolling of hills, erosion of streams, erratic boulders, fallen giants and much more that is lost in the flush of heavy leaf cover and a desire to find some exotic flower or bird. These are calming walks, but I find them just as much an escape from daily social chatter as any overwhelmingly exciting strolls in other seasons.
“My, you’re looking fine these days, Jack.”
“Why, thank you Grace,” replied one cardinal to the other as they both happily pecked away at birdseed on the ground. “Wish I could take credit for it, but …”
“I know, I know, happens to you fortunate guys every year around this time. I’m lucky to get a bit of a blush on my head.”
“Oh, you look really fine, yourself,” noted Jack gallantly.
“Yeah, yeah, and that’s the season talking too…”
“We don’t get to choose who we are, or even much how we act, you know. We just take what we can get and make the best of it.”
“Oh, ok,” cheeped Grace resignedly. “Me too. Like these amazing magical tidbits on the ground all the time, even in snow. Just can’t get over it.”
“Well, about time to fly around a bit and get back in shape. Need to get those hormones pumping to be as scarlet as possible.”
“Take care of yourself and watch out. You stand out like _ well like a cardinal in the snow.”
“Witty too,” laughed Jack, winging his way into the trees on the way to another spring.
Nature can effortlessly
Re-enchant us with all that we see
If we’ve failed or we’ve won
There is always the sun
To remind us what it is to be