Sooooo I spent so much time on this and then the storm comes and they don’t even deliver it in Wilkes-Barre. They do in Hazleton but run the pictures in black and white. They post it online but with NO pictures. Is somebody trying t4o tell me something?
By Bob Quarteroni
‘What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” John Steinbeck
Winter is not a season to be avoided, or one devoid of interest, color and spectacle.
It simply hides its wonders a little better than the other seasons, trading the green lushness of spring, the gaudiness of summer and the particolored splendor of autumn for more restrained wonders.
But take the time to look and you shall see revealed the magic of the natural world, as a few examples here attest.
A FOREST IN RAINDROPS
“Every raindrop that falls is accompanied by an angel, for even a raindrop is a manifestation of being.” Muhammad
A cold, pelting rain had been falling in the Darling Nature Preserve, near Blakeslee. When it stopped, in late afternoon, a crystal light washed everything new and lit the forest with untold sparkling raindrops, like these on a rose branch.
If you look closely at each raindrop you can see the forest reflected upside down. A fleeting vision, but one whose beauty is hard to match.
BRIGHT BEAUTY OF BITTERSWEET
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” Robert Frost
That indeed is one of the raps against winter: It’s dark, black-and-white and simply devoid of color.
Nothing could be further from the truth, as this oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) found behind our family cemetery in Courtdale, attests.
Also known as Oriental staff vine and climbing spindle berry, it is described as aggressively invasive, but this is one of only two patches I’ve run across in our region.
HOME SWEET HOME
“I prefer winter, the loneliness of it. Something waits beneath it—the whole story doesn’t show.” Andrew Wyeth
Exactly the case with these two lifeless-looking balls. In fact these goldenrod ball galls are the snug winter home of the goldenrod gall fly. Each gall contains a single plump larva, which overwinters inside the gall.
The quarter-inch-long larva slows its metabolism and utilizes glycerol as an antifreeze. If undisturbed by predators, the larva transforms into a pupa, and emerges in the spring as an adult fly. Adult flies only live about two weeks, during which time they mate and the females lay their eggs.
ARTISTRY OF NATURE
“It is through geometry that one purifies the eye of the soul.” Plato
Nature, the ultimate artist, loves dazzling us with shapes and arrangements of staggering beauty,
Reminiscent of an Alexander Calder mobile, button bush in winter shares his artistic vision because, he said, “I paint with shapes,” and, in endless variety and beauty, nature does so endlessly.
Pretty and useful. Native Americans used buttonbush in the treatment of kidney stones, sore eyes, rheumatism, headache, fever, bleeding and toothache.
“In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” William Blake
One of my favorite things about winter strolls is revisiting plants that have graced the woods from the first green shoots of spring through the beauty of flowering to autumn’s fruit, as with this wild hydrangea.
It any many others brighten the Back-Mountain trail waterfall and, mixing with the spray from the falls, make for an unforgettable experience any day of the year.
BEAUTY OF THE MIST
“I like the muted sounds, the shroud of grey, and the silence that comes with fog.” Om Malik
Only experience nature on sunny days and you deprive yourself of the near-mystical beauty that is a day heavy with fog, with air still as a thought and light that paints the shapes of nature in new and awe-inspiring ways.
In the total quiet, it’s like being the only person on the planet, and that is a magic to be savored, if you’re lucky enough to catch it.