One of the aspects of the season that I have especially come to love is winter’s light and shadow. The quality of light is different in the winter. It’s less intense, softer and more diffused.
What started as a mild season, almost a non-winter winter, has turned into a “Snow-mageddon” here. It’s been snowstorm after snowstorm, temperatures so frigid that it’s dangerous to go outside and depressingly grey skies. Even winter-lovers were having a hard time defending this weather. I must admit that the slight enthusiasm I had mustered for the season was rapidly disappearing.
And then I got an unexpected gift -- a collection of emailed pictures from a friend’s treks in the woods. (Followers of this blog will probably guess that it was Sandy Defoe who sent the pictures; unlike so many of us, she lives for the winter months.) She had stumbled upon a field of hoar frost and she was euphoric over her rare find.
I realized something this week. What I see in the winter is significantly different than what I see in the summer. I know that seems painfully obvious, but bear with me. In the summer, I spend much of my day outside either on the deck playing with the grandkids or tending the garden. Then, I see our lush backyard and the woods behind it. In the winter however, I spend hours in the kitchen, standing at the sink and gazing out the window on the front yard. Although we are putting in a prairie, right now the view from the front is much more urban in nature -- sidewalks, streets, cars and houses. It isn’t a calming view.
Thinking about where you see the outdoors is the first step in transforming a rather blah winter landscape into a masterpiece. So, how do you change an ordinary planting into an extraordinary winter scene?
For many, myself included, the idea of going outside in cold, snowy weather is absolutely ludicrous. We prefer to enjoy the outdoors sitting by the fireplace and gazing out of a frost covered windowpane. Unfortunately staying indoors during the winter months may keep us warm and toasty, but it can also add to or even cause some health-related problems.
In winter everything gets stripped down to its very essence and becomes sculptural. Details and views hidden by summer leaves are revealed. Structure, form and the quality of light and atmosphere become the stars of the show. By using the cues that nature gives us, we can fill our yards with winter beauty. “