Venturing Outside

Venturing outside the warm comfort of my home to take a short hike during the long winter months is no easy task, but it is vital to my sanity. I first have to figure out which areas of the forest are accessible or completely snowed in. Then comes the hour long process of getting the three of us in our winter gear and actually out of the house. It requires some extra effort, but the fresh air and the quiet beauty are worth the trouble.

We paid a visit to the very large and completely frozen Cass Lake.

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To get to the lake we first had to climb over a large snow dune.

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We admired the vast snowy landscape, but it was about 16 degrees and extremely windy out on the lake and I couldn’t feel my cheeks so we headed back into the protection of the woods.

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The winter landscape is mostly made up of varying shades of white and gray. Without the flowers and foliage that adorn the other seasons, things can get monotonous. That is why I got pretty excited about this area of the forest. The mix of green, red, and white tree trunks added color that could only really be appreciated in the winter.

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After a week of above- freezing temperatures the snow became crunchy, compacted, and unstable. It made taking a casual walk a bit nerve- wracking. We would take one step and sink in only an inch and then the next step we would sink up to our knees. And then every once in a while there were the hidden snowdrifts that would engulf us even more and we just about had to climb out. It kept things interesting.

Getting outdoors in the winter can be more difficult, but spending time in nature is rejuvenating, regardless of the season (and trudging around through deep snow is great exercise!).

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

~Robert Frost

 

Winter Skies

It could be said that the earth is the body of Nature while the sky is her face. The sky is where she puts her moods on display and they are ever- changing, from minute- to- minute, day- to- day, and season- to- season. Winter, I feel, is the moodiest of all seasons and I tend to absorb those moods as my own. There can be endless stretches of  gloomy clouds and fog that require extra motivation to leave the warm comfort of my home or to even roll out of bed in the morning.

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Then, the clouds finally drift away and the brilliant blue sky appears. On days like this, household chores are put on hold in order to savor every last minute of sweet sunshine. The cool air and sunny days are energizing and it is almost impossible not to match Nature’s cheerful mood.

The bare white branches of winter look especially striking against a clear, bright blue sky. Without leaves, the intricate shape and form of trees are on display and the warm sunshine coaxes me to stop and admire.

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Then there are the rare, breathtaking sunsets that just stop me in my tracks. As I stand there in amazement, I imagine God has lifted a veil from over the sky so that, just for a moment, his glory shines through to his children on earth. It is an experience that both humbles and heartens me.

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When the sun fades away on a clear night, we do not have to live in complete darkness. The moon and stars emerge, and they are beautiful reminders that we are not alone. They provide us light, comfort, and wonder until the sun once again brightens the world.

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14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs to indicate seasons, and days, and years. 15 Let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 Then God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. Then God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Genesis 1:14-19

Snow

I have a love- hate relationship with snow. Snow makes driving slow and stressful, it creates the chore of shoveling, it makes you cold and wet if you don’t dress properly, and it just makes life a bit harder overall. With that said, I really do love snow. I love watching large snowflakes leisurely make their way down to the earth just as much as I love watching millions of smaller snowflakes swirling violently in a storm. I love watching the winter sun shine on freshly fallen snow, creating a field of crushed, dazzling diamonds against a bright blue sky. What I love most, though, is a clear night, when the full moon reflects off the snow and I am able to see almost perfectly without the aid of a light. My own backyard becomes a magical otherworldly landscape. All is quiet; it is just me and the trees and the snow, with the moon lighting the way.

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In all my life I have never seen anything that embodies the word “pure” more than a blanket of freshly fallen snow. The power of a blizzard, the gorgeous glistening snow in the sunshine, and the peace and wonder of experiencing snow on a moonlit night all point to the majesty of God. His creative and unique gifts to us add beautiful layers and dimensions to life.  Being able to observe our world through the change of seasons adds so much richness and excitement to my life and gives me a greater appreciation of God’s masterful craftsmanship.

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“…Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;…”

Isaiah 1:18

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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

 

 

First Snow Adventure

We have been blessed with a mild autumn here in Minnesota, but that has come to an abrupt end. Our first snowfall for the season is not a light dusting of snowflakes; it is a full- blown blizzard. There was no working up to it over a period of weeks. Just a few days ago it was 67 degrees and sunny and now we have a foot of snow, 20 mph winds swirling more snow around, and little visibility. Winter is here, folks!

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There is always something so magical and exciting about the first snowfall so I was determined to get out and enjoy it. However, taking my two large dogs and four- year- old son out for a walk felt like an arctic expedition (granted, we were out in an actual blizzard). First, the preparation to take a step outside took close to an eternity. I had to put on an extra pair of socks for Roland, take off his pants and finagle him into his snow bib, shove on his enormous snow boots, and finally put on his jacket, hat and gloves. I believe there was more winter gear than child. Then I quickly threw on my own clothes and leashed up the dogs who had been pacing around and whining the entire time. At this point my energy and patience was zapped, but I did not do all that work for nothing so I opened the door and we stepped out into the snow storm. Roland was uncertain about walking through the foot- high snow on our deck and getting down the steps was treacherous, but we eventually made it into our own back yard.

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After a bit, we got a rhythm down and Roland actually started to enjoy himself. We passed through the front yard, which was my original destination, but Roland said he was up for walking farther so we continued on. We walked through the one set of tire tracks down our quiet street so the going was easier. After we walked a while, I noticed the wind picking up and the visibility decreasing so I decided it was a good time to head back home. When I turned around, I realized the wind had been at our backs going out and now it was blowing stinging snow and ice in our faces. My spirits plummeted. Roland was doing surprisingly well before, but how was I ever going to get him home in this? He is not especially tough in inclement conditions. The weather had never been great, but now it was deteriorating quickly. Our gloves were wet and we could barely keep our eyes open because of the blowing snow. I yelled at Roland to walk right behind me so I could block the wind for him. Every few seconds I turned to make sure he was still following, but he wasn’t keeping up. He was trying to walk with his eyes closed, his entire face was covered in snot, and he looked overall pitiful. What was I doing taking my four- year- old son out in this weather? We were close to our house, but I felt like we were journeying through an arctic wasteland. We needed to get home quickly so I gripped both dog leashes with one hand (I had to control 200 lbs. of frisky dogs with one arm) and grabbed Roland’s hand with the other and trudged on. In a few minutes were we safe at home.

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Just as we finished stripping our dripping wet clothes off, Roland asked to go outside again. I gave him my “You have got to be kidding me!” look.

We settled on some hot chocolate and watched the snow swirl around from our nice, warm home.

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