Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Winter Visit

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the
landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show."
- Andrew Wyeth

There is something wonderful about winter, when nature is in solitude, the beauty in its decay. Nature gives off the vibrations of things to come as winter withdraws and we are teased with the coming of Spring.

I enjoy going into the woods on a snowy day when sounds are muted and the birds can be viewed through the leafless trees and their songs clearly echoing throughout. I have been cooped up for a number of weeks due to the unusual volume of snow our area received over this past month of February. It was the second largest recorded snowfall over the month with over 21.4 inches mostly without much melting in-between. Today I awoke to a fresh 2 more inches on top of the already packed snow, so the woods had a fresh cover of the white stuff.

While I love hiking through woods when Spring is in full bloom, it is hiking in winter that adds the tension of things to come. I traveled nearby to Sugarcreek Metro Parks, a normally easy hiking area. It is also very popular for moderate hiking enthusiasts as well as - mostly in the Spring - runners who are looking for more than the hard streets. Today started out with only a few souls visiting the park, but by the time I left, a hiking group had moved in and things became much busier. This particular park offers at least a 3.5 mile trail which follows a small creek but also at times runs up against an isolated housing area. Still for a quick visit to nature, it is a pleasant place to go.

Today the trail was rutted and tromped down by previous hikers making it just a bit more difficult and easy to turn an ankle if one is not careful. But all things considered, it offers the starkness that only nature in winter time can present. One pleasant surprise was when I came upon a Pileated Woodpecker drilling for insects beneath the bark of the trees. I took some great video of the bird in action. Pileated woodpeckers are the largest species of woodpecker in North America and have a distinct red top to its grey coat which moves to a black and white striping of its head. The bird kindly worked from my angle of vision so that I could capture it at work.

My time out today helped give way to the cabin fever I have felt over the last month as I count the days before nature begins to break forth with early blooms and the overcast days become more sunny as the earth moves into position where the angle of the sun gradually begins to warm the ground and natural life begins anew.