Tuesday, January 17, 2012

There is Beauty in Winter

We never know what to expect from Winter here in Southeast Tennessee.

Last year we saw a lot of snow and very cold weather; but this year has been a normal
rainy and dreary winter, with an occasional sunny day.

Every winter I watch the sun make its journey along the mountaintop close to my home, heading north. The further north it gets, the more excited I get; it means spring is on its way! 

This past Sunday was cold, but the sunshine was bright and called me outside for a walk. I moseyed about  my yard and then to a tiny field behind my house. I carried my camera with me because you never know what you're going to see, even in the dead of winter.

Who would have ever thought of seeing a dandelion in January? But there it was, just as bright as the sun above.  In a few days it will have changed into it's "puffball" stage.

The woodpeckers have been busy drilling holes in my Sugar Maple tree.

I am so happy to see Tulips and Daffodils popping up from the earth!  

This is my favorite clump of buttercups. I call it Mrs. Brumlow after the dear friend who gave it to me many years ago.

I looked, but I didn't touch! This vine is probably still very itchy even in its dormant stage!

The pine trees are loaded with pine cones....

and the birds are lovin' all the winter berries.

There was something living inside this little "treehouse". Seriously, I saw a couple of bright eyes peering at me from the darkness and heard the slightest scamper inside. My imagination ran away with me and I saw a tiny little kitchen, a cozy fireplace, a couple of bedrooms...and a family of little furry woods critters.

Last fall this Joe Pye weed was a beautiful shade of royal purple. I like this version too.

I hollered a 'hello', but no one answered. I could hear the Squirrel family playing in the leaves and every so often I'd catch a glimpse of a soft gray tail scurrying up a tree or squirrel chatterings behind a tree stump.

Little owls or woodpeckers? Something has excavated some really spectacular  and perfectly round holes in this tree.

Two summers ago I kept hearing something on my roof late at night, after I went to bed. It would land, BLAM! and scratch, scratch, scratch.  Then silence. My curiousity got the best of me one night so I got my flashlight, slipped out the back door and very quietly tiptoed to the side of the house. I shone the flashlight towards my roof  and a huge barn owl looked down at me. He was very dignified and didn't let on that I had disturbed him. He resumed his stance on the roof, looking out into the night for a mouse or a small possum.

It's quite a distance from my house the the back of the tiny field behind my house.  The further I walked, I noticed there were no songbirds. They are neighborly little birds and like houses and people. However, I did hear a great many crows and bluejays in the woods surrounding the tiny field.  They sounded angry, as if they were telling me to leave. 

I looked down and found a tiny patch of bluets on the ground. These early spring wildflowers are also called Quaker Ladies. They are tinier than your baby fingernail.

A narrow stream of water runs alongside the tiny field. The sound of running water has always had a soothing affect on me.  

There's an old fencerow beside the stream. It looked so inviting that I sat down in front of the tree, leaned my head back against it and closed my eyes. I felt the sun on my face and I  heard the sound of the little stream behind me, the droning of an airplane in the sky above me, the caw of the crows and jays and the scampering of little woods creatures in the fallen leaves.

This is the sort of thing that helps me get through the dreary winter days here in Appalachia. When the rain begins to fall and the color of the sky stays gray for days and days, I will remember this day and its sunshine.

Listen to the sound of  the tiny winter waterfalls in the stream ..the gurgling low notes and the tinkling high notes... the caw of the crows and imagine the bright sunshine on your face.  

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope, wherever you are, you have enjoyed my sunny winter day here in my corner of Appalachia.