As the Winter Solstice approaches and the days get progressively colder and darker, I find myself longing of summer days when the sun rises early and sets late. I love those long hot days of playing in the woods, laughing with friends and eating food fresh from the garden. Winter, in comparison, doesn’t seem as friendly to me. For many years, we had a bit of a strained relationship; however, in recent years I’ve learned to bundle up and embrace winter.

For me, the key to enjoying winter is to get outside as much as I can. The natural world around us is so different and beautiful this time of year. The sky is a deeper blue, the stars seem clearer and brighter, and the songbirds are bright and beautiful as they migrate through my backyard. The trees that appear lush and nurturing in the summer take on an ancient and majestic feel once they shed their summer leaves. I especially love the Sycamore tree whose bright white trunk is a radiant beauty.

This year I encourage you to embrace winter yourself. Enjoy a backyard campfire. Take a hike and revel in how expansive the views are when the leaves aren’t there to block them. Track the birds that migrate through your yard. Try to identify the deciduous trees that have lost their leaves. And find peace in this time when the bears hibernate. 

By Paige Lester-Niles