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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Winter Time


I am no fan of winter. When people inquire as to whether or not I ski, my simple reply is this: "If I am going to spend a significant amount of money on a vacation, then there better be a beach involved." Now granted, the Swiss Alps in all their winter splendor are a little hard to beat, but I am drawn to the coast. I did, after all, grow up just a few minutes from the Pacific Ocean. But even the most committed warmth mongers can have an occasional moment when appreciation for the beauty and wonder of winter comes into view. The first snow of the season is always a bit magical. The white stuff really is pretty great when it first falls. I love the way it sticks to trees and rims the rooftops. I love how it shushes under your feet when you walk on a fresh field of the stuff for the first time. I love the way it quiets a city, giving one the illusion that life has stolen away to a still and peaceful place. The crispness of the air and the freshness of the cold, icy environment can be a delight to the senses. Too bad that the reality is that it falls off of the trees and turns into a slushy black mess all too quickly. Fortunately we don't have to shovel and rarely have to drive in it, two activities that make one long for spring in a hurry. Now, I also have to admit that if one is going to live in a cold climate where winter is a reality, then I do believe it's better to have real winter weather than just pathetic winter weather. Pathetic winter weather is lots of rain with temperatures that hover just above freezing. The sky is gray, the ground is wet and muddy, and yet, it's cold enough to make life quite unpleasant. Real winter weather drops below freezing so all the moisture falls as snow. Then it stays cold so the lakes freeze and the white stuff sticks around for more than a minute. Also, the good kind of real winter weather involves temperatures below freezing, but not way below. anything in the 20's F is fair game. Below that and we return to the bad kind of winter. And I have to say, since Christmas Stockholm has had pretty good real winter days. Bright sunshine, crystal blue skies (ok...so it's only that way for 6 hours a day...still, it's pretty while it lasts) good snowfall and not too deep freezer on the temperatures. We have woods close to our house that Tanner and I love...the story that is told by the beauty of these surroundings even brings joy to me, the most ardent fan of the non-winter seasons. One thing that I will say is a fair critique of winter is that it just doesn't know when to quit. By the end of February, winter should know that he's done. Time to let Ms. Spring come into view. But old man winter just won't go away so that by the end of March, early April we're not so much thinking that there's anything beautiful about winter at all. So have a look at this winter wonderland which for now is truly wonderful. If these scenes are still around in March, you can be sure that I'll be screaming about the winter wasteland that just doesn't know how to move on. By the way...these shots are taken at about 2.00 in the afternoon.