This is the time of year when I hear many friends bemoan the onset of winter. With grey skies, wet weather, cold temperatures, and darkness setting in by 4:30 PM in Nashville, I can understand the looming doldrums. However, I have always enjoyed the winter, although too many dreary days in succession can even wear out my disposition. Otherwise, though, I enjoy the crispness in the air, the opportunity to layer clothing, hot beverages, and the starkness of the stripped, bare landscape. Admittedly, this fondness for the coldest months might be a holdover from many years of being hopelessly rotund and out of shape. Back in those days, I was simply grateful to be outside during seasons whose cold temperatures minimized my ever present fear of growing in perspiration. Even now with a reasonably in-shape, average-sized body, I still enjoy the frigid temperatures and dark days. I took time each of the past two days to hit one of my favorite in-town hikes despite dreary skies and soggy ground. I was reminded why the cold, shadow months can be some of the most beautiful and rewarding.
The first thing I notice when trekking through a newly leafless forest is how much more depth there is to the landscape. One’s point of view extends to ridges, creeks, hillsides, and pastures typically hidden by the dense foliage of green. While many critters remain and thrive in winter, the dominant feeling is one of rest, quiet, and tranquility as the chorus of crickets, frogs, and insects is hushed to silence. There is something appropriate and poetic about the ability to literally take the long, unobstructed view. This is the benefit of winter – a time for calm reflection, taking stock, and planning. Even the white colorless skies can imply a blank sheet of paper at the ready for just such endeavors.