Sunday, December 12, 2010

Outlook to Winter

    Most of us, I fear, look upon winter with some feeling of dread and apprehension. It is to be endured. This feeling is partly due to the immense change that comes with the approach of winter. The trees are bare. The leaves are drifting into the fence-rows. The birds have flown. The deserted country roads stretch away into leaden skies. The lines of the landscape become hard and sharp. Gusty winds scurry over the fields. It is the turn of the year.
    To many persons, however, the dread of winter, or the lack of enjoyment in it, is a questions of weather. We speak of bad weather, as if weather ever could be bad. Weather is not a human institution, and is not to be measured by human standards. There is strength and mighty uplift in the roaring winds that go roistering over the winter hills. The cold and the storm are part of winter, as the warmth and the soft rain are a part of summer. Persons who find happiness in the out-of-doors only in what we call pleasant weather, do not really love nature.
     We speak of winter as bare, but this is only a contrast with summer. In summer all things are familiar and close; the depths are covered. The view is restricted. We see things near by. In the winter things are uncovered. Old objects have new forms. There are new curves in the roadway through the forest. There are steeper undulations in the footpath. Even when the snow lies deep on the earth the ground-line carries the eye into strange distances. You look far down into the heart of the woods. You feel the strength and resoluteness of the framework of the trees. You see the corners and angles of the rocks. You discover the trail that was lost in summer. You look clear through the weedy tangle. You find new knotholes in the tree trunks. You penetrate to the very depths. You analyze, and gain insight.
    Many times in warm countries I have been told that the climate has transcendent merit because there is no winter. But to me this lack is its disadvantage. There are things to see, things to do, things to think about in the winter as in the spring. There is interest in the winter wayside, in the hibernating insects, in the fretwork of the weeds against the snow, in the strong outlines of the trees, in the snow-shapes, in the cold deep sky. To many persons, these strong alterations of the seasons emphasize and punctuate the life. They are the mountains and the valleys. The winter makes the spring worth while.
    The lesson is that our interest in the out-of-doors should be a perennial current that overflows from the fountain that lies deep within us. This interest is colored and modified by every passion season, but fundamentally it is beyond time and space. Winter or no winter, it matters not: the fields lie beyond.  - L.H. Bailey, December 1901
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