Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Shenandoah Valley snowy winter day

 The storm on January 21, 2014, left 5 inches of snow at our house in Augusta County, a fine, powdery snow that swirled in the air late in the day as winds kicked up. Today's winter wonderland sparkled in the bright, cold sunshine after an overnight low of 0 and a daytime high of 19.

 I bundled up and headed outdoors with my camera to check out the nooks and crannies of our property. The temperature was 17 and the snow was light and fluffy. The sun was bright in the blue sky but not very warming in the frigid air.

 Local birds have always been a source of enjoyment as they gather at the bird feeder and heated bird bath -- cardinals, blue jays, juncos, tufted titmice, wrens, woodpeckers, doves, bluebirds, and this year, for the first time (for us), robins. Crows and grackles like to gather, too, running off the song birds.

 Almost all the nandina berries, plentiful just a month ago, have been consumed by birds.

 Lone junco stands on the tip of a picket waiting his turn at the feeder.

 This little wren was on the suet feeder.

 The cardinals came out as I stood in the yard watching the feeder ... half a dozen crimson-colored males with their more subdued female partners.

 They would swoop down to the feeder, then fly back to tree branches to eat the seeds.

There's a beauty in winter that truly comes out when it snows. The winter woods provide expansive views of the horizon as well as a peek onto the forest floor that is obscured by foliage during warmer times of the year.

Snow muffles sound ... the quiet can fill your senses along with the cold. The woods beckon ... birds twitter ... it's fun to follow a variety of animal tracks. Today I saw tracks that belonged to rabbits, deer, and various birds. Dark shadows created a mosaic of interesting patterns across the snow. Icicles sparkled from fences ... tree limbs creaked in the wind.

I was lost in the winter wonderland that some take for granted and some despise. This week's cold temps will make sure the snow sticks around for a while unlike snows in late February and March. Indeed, it is 7:00 this evening and the outdoor temperature is already in single digits. Perhaps we will be much colder than last night's low of zero.

In cold climates and ski resorts winter is celebrated with strings of outdoors lights that brighten the dark nights, gatherings of friends, and entertaining. Enjoy the snow ... take a walk in the woods ... celebrate winter in the Shenandoah Valley!

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
January 22, 2014

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