Gazing at Winter’s Austere Beauty

The other day my friend Kathy wrote a blog about gazing that struck a chord with me so deeply that I’ve had to revisit her post at least three times. Her words hung with me Sunday when Tony and I visited a new-to-us place on the Leelanau Peninsula, and so we took a little more time examining the woods than we normally might when freezing rain threatens. (It held off until we went into the grocery store, soaking our bags on the way back to the car.)

Particularly as winter wears on, we wish to hurry it, to press more quickly for spring. And that’s understandable – who doesn’t want to be surrounded again by birdsong, blooming flowers, and morels? Since there’s no hurrying it, though, I choose to spend my blue-grey days looking for the details – the splendid little things that just don’t stand out amidst the more vibrant backgrounds that prevail rest of the year.

These are the things we gazed upon as we lingered in the winter woods. I hope you can appreciate their beauty, and maybe even the surprise in the details. And seriously, if you haven’t clicked through to Kathy’s blog, you should. Because she was much more eloquent in waxing philosophic, while I’m mostly just sharing pictures of putting that philosophy to work.

Tall, straight trunk explodes in a riot of tangled branches in the canopy
tall straight scraggly trees

Broken tree mimics bridge

Forest floor home
critter home

Cornucopia of lichen – blue, chartreuse, green, red
cornucopia of lichen

Wispy curling bark

Rough to smooth
rough to smooth

Mimicking a rainbow eucalyptus
not a rainbow eucalyptus

Enjoying the overlook

melting snow baby




15 thoughts on “Gazing at Winter’s Austere Beauty

    • Thanks Ms. Katie 🙂
      The overlook was spectacular, but I think I might pick the array of lichen or the surprisingly rainbow-colored bark. Or maybe I’ll choose them all since they’re the ones I decided to share from the outing 😉

    • Absolutely. I think we sometimes get too caught up in other things that we miss the lovely things right in front of us. I suppose this is my version of practicing presence.

  1. Hi Heather! Winter is my favorite season, perhaps coz we don’t really have a proper one in my neck of the woods! Your wondrous pictures capture it’s essence beautifully and took me straight back to the few years I spent in Kobe as a child and learned to love it 🙂 Thank you for that and I’m so glad we got acquainted through Munira…these are times when I love the virtual world that much more!

    • I think winter might be easier to love when you don’t have to deal with it 😉 I am lucky because my husband and I both work from home, so driving snow shoveling happen on our terms. And I agree – sometimes the internet really does make the world smaller in the best of ways 🙂 Glad to meet you!

  2. Awww, Heather, this is so beautiful. How wonderful that you chose to linger and look at the details instead of letting the mind convince us of an eternal springtime which exists outside this moment. I am really glad you liked the gazing blog. I liked it, too. 🙂 And now must remember to gaze and linger many times this day. Thank you, truly, for your willingness to linger and absorb and share.

    • There are many things that make life grand, but I truly think it’s the small things that make this life precious. Sometimes I remember this easily and absorb all the little wondrous things, but sometimes I need a nudge. Thanks for the nudges – I’d hate to miss a tree for only seeing the forest 🙂

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