By Michael Leach
Winter sun turns a snowy lawn into a giant geography map. At least it seems so to me. My imagination transforms the shadow of a gnarly old tree into the Nile Delta. On the flip side, it could be the tributaries of the Mississippi River. Sometimes I imagine the snow is a sea dotted with islands (footprints). Sled tracks suggest railway lines running hither, thither.
Those pale blue shadows of shrubs, poles, fences and more on a brilliant sunny day make an abstract pastel watercolor sliding silently, imperceptibly across the whiteness.
And on a full-moon night comes a jaw-dropping view from the bedroom window upstairs. Deltas, islands, roadways, all faintly visible in the silvery glow.
Is cabin fever getting the best of me? Is it time for a change of scenery? Possibly, but I prefer thinking of this coping tactic as a way of making winter — my least favorite season — a more pleasant time. These and other little mind games help me look forward to more than the rest that dormancy and bitter weather force me to accept. Perhaps you, too, find reasons to welcome winter.
Because winter sun is rare in my part of the Midwest, any appearance is cause for excitement.
Tree leaves, not to mention frequent haze, obscure sunrise and sunset in summer, when the sun is taken for granted and sometimes cursed. In barren winter, things are different. The first sliver of orange disk can be seen through distant trees as I gaze from that bedroom window, a mug of steaming coffee in hand.
Some evenings, depending on weather, I walk in a nearby park, one on the edge of open farm fields. The sun reverses itself. Sliding silently behind bare trees on the horizon, the sun ripens into an ever-larger orange oval. For a moment or two, the distant woods seem to be aflame. Then only an ebbing campfire burns before the sky darkens.
Because cloudy skies are the norm, I decided to “celebrate” winter a few years ago by stringing white Christmas lights on a volunteer cedar I see from the kitchen sink window. Suddenly winter sparkled with a festive air. The little tree is especially handsome mantled with snow. A greeting card I send to myself.