As a reader of our blog, and thank you for that, you may well have surmised that the month of January’s theme is Winter’s Bare Branches. Living in the Midwest I am surrounded by branches from the many varieties of Maples, the Sycamores, the River Birch, Pin Oaks and Red Oaks, Magnolias, and Weeping Willows, the Black Walnut and the Sweet Gum, varieties of trees too numerous to list. Drive down any neighborhood street and you will probably see a Honey Locust, a Maple, even a large Bur Oak gracing the parkways. During the summer months these varieties are clothed in their various colors, shapes and sizes of leaves, seeds or flowers, but in the winter, unless you are an arborist (tree expert) they all appear to look almost the same, except perhaps in size. Their branches stripped clean, standing bare before us. I can see the shape, the size, the broken, the scars, the length of the branches, all appearing lifeless. And I wonder, will the Spring bring life back into those broken and scarred limbs.
I know that winter pretty much strips me of the joy that I find during those warmer months of the year. Sunshine and warmth are my go-to words, but sunshine has been very sparse this year. Since January 1st we have had only 1 full day of sunshine, the rest have been partly cloudy or totally dreary. With rain, not snow. We had 2 beautiful snows in December followed by January rains. Am I complaining, yes. Do I feel stripped and bare, yes. But like the trees I will flourish again in the spring. Having this cold dreary weather does give me an excuse to hunker down and read until my eyes grow weary, then I nap.
Eventho Winter is not my favorite time of year, I do find life among those bare trunks and limbs. Wildlife remains steadfast throughout the cold months here in the Midwest. Those bare branches provide a safe place for birds and our furry friends to perch in their search for food, thus giving me the opportunity to capture their winter coats and plumage.
And I must admit there is an occasional drop-dead gorgeous sunset. And with the trees bare I can enjoy those blazing colors.
So there you have it....my so-called love/hate relationship with our Midwest winters. Love them for draping our world in purest white, for the gorgeous unimpeded views of sunsets, and the birds and critters that give life to the barest of branches. The not so loved side are the short days,the pile of coats, gloves and boots to weather the cold, the dreariness, and the longing for those bare limbs to spring forth with life again.