I am standing in the cold, sharp air, but I only feel it in each breath I take in because I am bundled up from head to toe in layers of warmth.
It is dark outside and the trees are simple black silhouettes reaching towards the star-filled sky. The half moon has no canopy to penetrate so it falls to the forest floor in a soft light.
Winter wanders are all about zooming in and zooming out.
The tiny fragile details and the breathtaking big picture.
Tonight I am zooming out, taking a look at one of my favorite winter aspects, the winter skies.
The night skies are clear and crisp, filled with stars brought sharply into focus by the thin air of winter cold. Winter stars have a special glimmer and brilliancy to them. Early darkness presents ample opportunities to gaze above. Because of this, I seem to know the winter constellations best of all. I check on Orion coming across the eastern horizon with his bow at the ready, a steady winter watchman. In the mornings before dawn I will see he has made his nightly round about the north star and heads off into the western horizon. I scan the sky for the seven sisters, collectively known as Pleiades, and the wonderful Cassiopeia, my faithful friends. This year I took to the open skies of a local pasture for the convergence of Jupiter and Saturn. The clean atmosphere of winter gave me a crisp view of the “Star of Bethlehem”.
There are fewer hours to enjoy the daytime skies, but when they are not gray, they are a brilliant blue often accented by elegant cirrus clouds, wisps of icy crystals high in the atmosphere.
Winter is a great time to see the phenomena called a sun dog, or parhelion. This happens when a ring of moisture forms ice crystals around the sun. Often there are two flashy prisms opposite of each other on the ring, which are the dogs, eternally chasing each other around the sun.
Winter sunrises and sunsets are a wonder, filled with magic and rich colors. Maybe it is because the winter light travels more on direct pathways, not obscured by summer haze. Maybe it is because we are surrounded by the neutral gray and brown palettes so the contrast becomes even more captivating. It is just the touch of color we need when all other colors seem to be in hibernation.
Winter is more subtle, more dignified that any other season.
Beauty is all around, but you have to know where to look. When the winter blues set in and you are ready for a splash of color or some sparkle in your life, try looking to the skies.
For more Winter Wanders – see our list below.