The sounds of winter days are muffled under a blanket of snow, whether the gray and white days of falling snow, or the sunny days of blue skies and glistening snow. In the meadows few animals are seen. Only their footprints are revealed, in meandering lines that originate somewhere unseen and go to places unknown. Grasses nod their heads of grain, inviting flocks of passing birds. Cardinals, so secretive throughout the summer nesting season, now flaunt themselves on backyard feeders, and sprays of wild roseberries add a decorative touch of red to roadsides and hedgerows.
Outside the nights of December fall dark and early, and houses twinkle with strings of colored lights. Back porches are stacked with firewood, and the crystalline air is delicately scented with wood smoke. Inside, homes are filled with firelight and candle glow; ovens yield old family recipes, while outside, the drifting snow fills the valleys and covers the rooftops.
There are mornings of frost feathered trees seen through ice etched window panes. The chill of winter drives us indoors to the warmth of the fireside. By the back door sunlight flashes from the icicle that hangs just below the eve. Flocks of starlings gather in the walnut trees and crows search the frozen hayfield for anything they might have overlooked in times of greater abundance.
Beneath a bird feeder there are numerous tracks, like cuneiform writing on the snow covered ground, silent thank you messages for a handful of seeds. Inside, this is a time of quiet contemplation, and of long evenings spent by the fire.It is a time when many of us enjoy the handcrafts we were too busy for in the warmer months. It is a time, too, of quiet conversations reflecting on the passing year and weaving plans for the year to come.
As the abbreviated winter day draws to a close, with a melancholy sunset that is reflected on the glazed surface of the snow, we enjoy the warmth and comfort of the house. The strange perfume of the paper white narcissus blooming on the windowsill mingles with the scent of wood smoke, hinting at the myriad of flowers that lie slumbering beneath the frozen crust of earth just beyond the comfort of the house.