Reasons to Love Winter

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Have you been ready for spring since about January 2?  Wondering how you’ll ever get through the remaining weeks of winter?  The best way I know is to get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer.  When there’s enough snow, cross country skiing or snowshoeing are both good ways to keep warm enough to enjoy exploring the beauty of your surroundings.  Or go for a walk in a nearby park, natural area, or your own garden.

Thirteenth Lake, Garnet Hill Lodge, North Creek,  New York

Thirteenth Lake, Garnet Hill Lodge, North Creek, New York

View from a ski trail: Haul Road, Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

View from a ski trail: Haul Road, Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

Cross Country skier in the woods, Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

Cross Country skier in the woods, Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

While you’re out you’ll almost certainly spot animal tracks.

Raccoon tracks, Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, New Hope, Pennsylvania

Raccoon tracks, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, New Hope, Pennsylvania

Fox tracks

Fox tracks

Grouse tracks, Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

Grouse tracks, Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

If you’re really lucky, you’ll spot the critter that made the tracks.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

You may see evidence of insects or spiders attempting to survive the winter in one form or another.

Braconid wasp cocoon bundle

Braconid wasp cocoon bundle

Well-camoflaged spider on Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), facing south to catch the sun's warmth

Well-camoflaged spider on Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), facing south to catch the sun’s warmth

Mystery cocoon made from a leaf and silk.  Could it be a moth?  A spider?

Mystery cocoon made from a leaf and silk. Could it be a moth? A spider?

Or you may find evidence that some insects have instead become food for birds. In the photo below, the holes in the tree were made by a Pileated Woodpecker, the result of excavating for a meal of carpenter ants or other insects.

Holes excavated by Pileated Woodpecker

Holes excavated by Pileated Woodpecker

With the leaves mostly off the trees, the spotlight is on the beauty of bark

Pealing birch bark

Pealing birch bark

and the mosses,

Moss on tree bark

Moss on tree bark

lichens,

Lichens

Lichens

and mushrooms that decorate tree trunks and branches.

Common Split Gill mushrooms, commonly found on dead branches, help decompose the wood

Common Split Gill mushrooms, commonly found on dead branches, help decompose the wood

Winter buds are a promise of spring to come, showing subtle color and offering a way to identify trees in winter.

Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis) buds and leaf scar

Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis) buds and leaf scar

Basswood (Tilia americana) bud

Basswood (Tilia americana) bud

Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) bud and leaf scar

Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) bud and leaf scar

Winter fruits can be as beautiful as the flowers that produced them.

Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

Elephant's foot (Elephantopus carolinianus)

Elephant’s foot (Elephantopus carolinianus)

Birds, including some that you may only see in winter, eat some of the fruits.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

The low angle of winter light flatters the landscape.

View from Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

View from Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

These are just a few of the reasons to love winter as much as the other seasons.  Go out and explore while you can!

Related Posts

A Winter Garden Can be a Wildlife Habitat

Wonders of a Winter Walk – The Marsh

The Mist, the Meadow, and a Mystery

Backyard Birds, Snowstorm Number ??

15 thoughts on “Reasons to Love Winter

  1. Such delicate colors & forms. Such delightful treasures found. So much beauty! You’ve certainly succeeded in tempting me out of doors as soon as possible! Thank you, Mary Anne!

  2. What wonderful photos! It amazes me how different the animals and plants of winter are in Vermont (and New York and Pennsylvania) than here in Kansas – I was actually quite surprised. We would have pheasant tracks, not grouse; coyote tracks more commonly than fox; and we share the raccoons. I see mantid and wheel bug egg cases when I go out, but I haven’t found a braconid wasp cocoon bundle like that one in any season!

    Thanks for sharing your finds. It inspires me to go see what similar sorts of photo opportunities I can locate in this quiet season.

    • It was cross country skiing that got me outside long enough in winter to start noticing all of the beauty and interest of winter, although I always loved the light. There is so much to see! It’s interesting that you have more coyotes than fox. Coyotes are present here, but fox are mush more common. I live at the edge of a small town, and there’s a fox that passes by regularly. Last winter I spotted some tracks that might have been coyote at a preserve nearby, but I was never quite sure of the i.d.

      I’m glad you liked the photos. Let me know what interesting things you find!

  3. Pingback: To Love Winter: Striped Wintergreen | The Natural Web

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