“World’s use is cold, world’s love is vain, world’s cruelty is bitter bane;
but is not the fruit of pain.”
(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
It’s cold. Bitterly, bloody cold. Of course, it is winter so cold is to be expected; far be it from me to complain. It does, however, make for some, shall we say, thrilling forrays to capture its beauty in photographs.
I broke down this year and invested in new, very heavy-duty winter boots. Hunting boots from Danner, with 1,000 gram Thinsulate, to be exact. They are a thing of beauty and I love them. But even they were no match for this latest arctic blast. They got a real test when we took a trip to the local nature preserve after the first in the series of snowstorms came through; an hour and a half in the sub-zero morning, my feet had had enough. Running and skiing don’t compare to standing around in deep snow so even these extreme boots are going to be stuffed with heated socks or something the next time we go out in such deadly weather.
Despite the cold toes, I was still thrilled to get out. There wasn’t much going on there in terms of wildlife, but I enjoyed shooting some landscapes of the snowy river, and the stretch of white-capped teasels was good practice shooting white-on-white.
We weren’t seeing much of the hawks during this time; most all the furred and small, feathered wilds were sticking very close to home. The red-tail did show up early in the week, and though very close to the patio I managed to nail it in the heartbeat it took for it to launch and then disappear behind one of the big pine trees. I had the camera set for a stick-picking shot and was actually very surprised to have gotten only wing blur here.
When sub-zero temperatures grip, the brief moments of intermittent sunshine begin to create fantasies of ice as the snow slowly melts off the roofs of the houses. Often, this light would come late in the afternoon, affording me the chance to indulge my artsy-fartsy eye and try to capture some of what is my personal favorite in Nature’s bag of breathtaking tricks.
And what would Winter be without a visit from the Travel Gnome? In drag.
As I write this particular piece, the bitter cold snap continues and I continue to chronicle the lengthing icicles, both on houses and furry tails. It occurs to me once again that living where there are four, real seasons is one reason that I’m never bored or at a loss for ideas to continue to work on my photography. I know that to some people, ice may be just ice, squirrels or hawks may be just squirrels or hawks, but as the natural cycle moves ’round its annual wheel, it provides a never-ending rotation of unique players, and each is worthy of attention.
And I’m both grateful and most often simply excited to be able to do this.