February 4, 2015

Winter : Seeking Inspiration on an Ordinary Day

This winter in our part of northern Minnesota has been rather uninspiring.  In recent weeks I've found myself thinking that it's been the most drab and boring winter ever.  (I'm not normally one for using the word, boring!)   It's true though, while we're accustomed to months of monochromatic scenery, we've had weeks and weeks of gloomy dull gray skies between the dominant darkness.
And we're very low on snow.  What thin covering there is, is packed hard and icy in most places.
With the harsh winter temps we experience, snow plays an important role.  It insulates the ground, the tree roots and vegetation.  (Underground water pipes and utility workings too.)  It also serves as insulation for animals who burrow down underground or in the snow for winter.  Severe winters with little snow cover are hard on Ruffed Grouse, who take advantage of deep snow for shelter from the cold.  Typically they will plunge right into the snow to spend the night secure and well insulated.  
also offers a perk for us humans enduring the cold temps, by offering recreational options during these frozen winter months.  Sledding and snowshoeing are two things usually enjoyed at our house in the winter.  The kids have done minimal sledding and have had group sledding activities canceled (snow offers nice cushion for safety when flying down a slippery frozen hill.)  Snowshoes are entirely useless on three inches of crunchy ground cover.

Still, I was determined to take my camera out the other day and find something to inspire a photograph or two. 
Here's what I found:

A new stack of logs from the woods behind our house, mostly ash, some maple, to replenish the woodshed.  Dead or blown down trees provide our warmth for the long winter. 
I've loved the pattern of tree rings ever since I was a kid.

Polypores on decaying trees also fascinate me.

The beauty and delicacy of birch bark:

A small dash of color; wild rose hips.

A willow catkin:

And a bright assortment of sleds leaning on our garage, waiting for more snow.

In the past few days we've had the joy of blue skies for a change, and daylight is gaining a little longer.  But winter is far from over and boatloads of snow may yet come.  Who knows what February,  March, and April will bring!


  1. it is odd to not have snow up there! hope its not a harbinger of drought. loved the bark shots.

  2. Yeah....your winter sounds a lot like the winter here in Portland. We've had unseasonably warm weather, which means it rains instead of snows on our mountains. Not good if you're a skiing fanatic like me. Looks like you made the best of a gloomy situation and got some good pics anyway!

  3. That "ordinary" birch bark is quite exquisite with its rolling delicate nature! FANTASTIC capture and study of the ordinary around us that most miss! Love it! Thanks for linking up to Song-ography, AND...I am your newest follower! Love your photography.

  4. beautiful shots have you here, thanks for sharing all the photos with us at "OBW"

  5. You have created some real works of art, while out looking for inspiration.

  6. You were able to find some great inspiration to photograph, Our winter has been much like your's and I haven't been out taking pictures at all. I'm still posting my photos from my trip to FL in December

  7. Your photos are a tribute to winter - so lyrical! We've also had a pretty boring winter, but finally, snow has come and it's been snowing for five days now. Such a perk! Hoping you get some of the white stuff your way too.

  8. Strange it must be to not gave SNOW!
    Our December was that way, January treated us and February is helping us remember that winter is here to stay!
    Lovely post and photos Amanda . . . liked the cut tree rounds/rings, the mushroom things on the trees, birch bark, rose hips . . . such wonderful photos . . . And reflecting on the NEED of snow . . . makes me hope and wish BUNCHES fall in Minnesota land near you, very soon!

  9. I think you did a wonderful job of finding inspiration. I enjoyed all of your beautiful photos very much.

  10. That birch bark is so beautiful. I love the detail in the photos.

    I have been secretly catching up on all of your posts. Decided that I should probably say hi :)
    I'm getting back into blogging!

  11. How interesting... Didn't realize that you are having a drab winter --with little snow. We have had almost NO snow at all--but that's pretty normal for us... I was interested in reading all of your thoughts about how the lack of snow effects so many.. My friends in Maine are having a HORRIBLY snowy winter... Crazy--this weather, isn't it?????

    Great group of pictures though... AND--I'm glad you saw a little sunshine.. That always perks me up in a long, drab winter.

  12. Absolutely gorgeous photos ... I love the trees!! Thanks so much for sharing your part of the world with us at OBW!

  13. You definitely have the eye of an artist. I love your pictures, especially the birch bark, but really all of them make me smile. We are 15-30% of normal snowpack in the mountains here as well. It's a little scary.

  14. Well so happy to see that you were able to find some beautiful in a drab kinda day. I do love you photos here my friend.


  15. The rings are so pretty, ever since I was a child I count them to estimate the age of a tree .Lovely shots of the birch barks. We have a lot of snow here and the cold northern wind.Skiing is dangerous - we have high avalanche risk.Even walking in the woods is not good anymore because of too much snow on the branches, my poor dog was almost hit by a falling tree the other day. But true - snow gives shelter to many animals and gives nature a rest. Wishing you all the best!

  16. Wow, stunning photography!!! I'm glad you were determined to get your camera out.

  17. I love the growth rings! Your pictures of them gave me some Jack Handy thoughts. And yes, bring on the snow please!

  18. Amanda, I love your subtle winter photos. You're right - winter is hardly over. It's been spring-like in Breckenridge, too - but I know we'll be under snow until at least end-of-May!