Monday, February 3, 2014

Midwinter Musings

Well, here we are at the halfway point of winter (dare I say the 50 yard line?), and in Western North Carolina, Nibbles the Groundhog has declared six more weeks of winter. Groundhog Day...what a quirky tradition! I'm thinking the German settlers of Pennsylvania must have been really bored that February day in 1887 when they came up with this one - "Hey, lets hoist a large rodent aloft and look for his shadow!"

Quirky traditions notwithstanding, I'm rather fond of February. The days are getting longer, the sun seems brighter, and by the end of the month we'll be seeing the first crocus, perhaps a daffodil or two.  My favorite midwinter verse doesn't fit very well here in the Southeast, but it's a good excuse to share a few more of the photos I took recently in Duluth, Minnesota.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

This familiar carol began as a poem way back in 1872, a few years before those German settlers in Pennsylvania opted for the groundhog forecasting method. Written by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), it was eventually set to music by Gustav Holst in 1906. I've always thought the words capture so beautifully that part of winter up north that seems unrelenting, the weeks when it seems as if the world has frozen beyond its ability to thaw. 

I wonder what the 42-year-old Christina was feeling and thinking as she penned these words. I imagine her sitting at an old wooden desk with an oil lamp while the wind howled outside her window. Did she feel as bleak inside as the world looked outside? I don't think so. I like to believe that she was a peaceful and content observer of the season.

Although I am happy for the lengthening days and the prospect of crocus, midwinter in the colder climes brings treasure in abundance for those who pay attention. One gift of winter is its ability to make the color red so very beautiful. 

Don't you think?


  1. I like the 50-yard line metaphor 😉

  2. What great pics! Are those Cedar Waxwings? We don't see them here, alas. And I too love that poem.

  3. Yes! Red looks especially beautiful in these pics. This is an excellent post. And, I'd guess that Christina was wondering if she would ever see the earth, or if the ground would be eternally white. But you know me--not a fan of winter. So I'm probably placing my feelings into that scenario. :) The bird pics are truly amazing.

  4. Wow, great post, I needed that, thank you. February here in Rhode Island is never-ending, but perhaps a crocus will make its way through the snow here as well as there.

  5. Beautiful, beautiful pictures!! I was looking at your sidebar and I love the little mustache Miss Lucie has. Katie has the most gentle face.

  6. Brenda, I really enjoyed your snow pictures. Snow is so pretty to look at. Living with it is another thing. I prefer to be as far away as possible :) but thank you for sharing. Very enjoyable.

  7. beautiful beautiful pictures! yay, duluth!