Winter arrives on the calendar this weekend with little notice since it already showed up on the front steps several weeks ago.
So what should I expect from winter? The worst, I suppose, since the frigid winds have already delivered a blow of snow that isn’t going anywhere soon.
But what if I expect the best of winter, what’s already here and what’s to come? Can I see the gems hidden in the snow and cold, gems that will turn my head even as I turn my collar to the wind?
It’s already happened. I see the wide flowerheads of faded sedum wearing bright hats of snow. Chimney smoke curls into the frigid night air, softly illuminated by holiday lights as the wisps of white ghosts tease the full moon.
Sometime this winter I’ll see swirls and lines of frost on the window panes of an old shed. An icicle will hang in the bushes, changing colors as it catches the setting sun’s golden rays.
I’ll study tracks in the snow, discovering the rabbit’s night moves to and from the seeds below the bird feeder. A cardinal will appear among the first fat snowflakes of the next snowfall, flashing its red feathers as warning to all birds to feed before taking shelter from the storm.
Winter is bright red high-bush cranberries against a backdrop of snow-laden pine boughs, dogs bouncing in the snow, lake ice booming in the darkness, the lonesome night “whoos” of an owl, and geese shrouded in the rising steam of river water. Perhaps I’ll approach a feeding chickadee, so close I can almost feel the energy of its dime-weight body vibrating to stay warm.
Warmth. I’ll carry in an armful of it from the wood pile for the night’s repose. And then the beauty of winter will simply be a morning indoors, warmed by the wood heat and a hot drink.
It’s winter. Sometimes the best of times.
Greschner is Rice Lake Chronotype sports editor.