In many parts of the world, the winter season is bleak and cold. For those that enjoy making connections with nature, winter can seem particularly unforgiving. Most or all of the green is gone, the days are short, and everything in the natural world seems to be dormant or hibernating. Despite the seemingly dreary days, there are many things to look for and enjoy during winter. Nature is dynamic; attentive observers will find that the bleak winterscape has more points of interest than the casual observer would think could be found.
Look for Colors
How many different colors of brown are there? How about shades of gray? Almost more than you can count. Brown and gray may not seem interesting, but take a closer look. Notice the trunk and bark of a sycamore or beech tree. With most trees missing their leaves, pay attention to the other features trees have to offer. Some species of trees will hold on to their dead, brown leaves through the winter. Notice how beech leaves start the winter a medium shade of brown and by late winter have become almost white and paper thin.
Look for Patterns
Winter is a time of sharp contrasts. Observe the patterns that tree branches make, silhouetted against a blue or gray sky. Stark shadows from that same tree will create a somewhat different pattern on the lawn, roadway or side of a building. Shadows from a loose cluster of tree trunks form an irregular series of lines, light and dark, across the pavement.
Take another look at those trees trunks with the different shades of brown and gray. Their bark forms a variety of patterns and shapes. Some are smooth and large, almost flowing; some are ragged and coarse. Winter provides an almost endless array of shapes and lines to stimulate the creative, artistic eye.
Look at Different Times, Different Days
The winter landscape is constantly changing. Find a particular view or scene that you enjoy. It may be through a window at work or at home, or a particular place that you walk past more than once a day. Notice how it changes at different times of day. What is hidden in deep shadows early or late in the day that the midday sun reveals? How does the character of this scene change when sun turns to clouds and clouds turn to rain? There will be other differences from week to week and month to month. If there is vegetation in your view, late in winter, subtle changes will start to occur, whispering the pending arrival of spring.
By late winter, it can seem like winter will never end. Even though we understand it is part of the natural cycle, that does not make winter any less cold! Distracting the creative and observant parts of the mind with the visual character of the landscape, both subtle details and dramatic vistas, is one way to forget about the less pleasant aspects of winter. Soon, it will be spring.