March 13, 2014

Finding Beauty in the Beast of Winter

Oh, what a bone-chilling winter it has been! I won’t sugar-coat it, it has been miserable. This has been the winter of never-ending snow, ice, freezing rain, sleet, and more snow here in the Northeast U.S., as well as parts of the South, the Midwest, and reaching into Canada. In fact, due to a weather condition called a polar vortex, many places around the globe have seen severe weather. 

The frigid cold around here has set records. Many mornings, I've awakened to temperatures in the single digits; the other morning, the thermometer read a mere 8 degrees. It was warmer in Alaska that day! Some people like the cold, some people like snow, and I respect that. But for me, winter is definitely not my favorite season. 

Still, despite the drabness and chill of it all, there is an assured beauty to winter, a serenity in the silence of new fallen snow. So to cheer things up while waiting for spring, I'm sharing photos taken around my home this winter, followed by winter art that I hope you'll enjoy. 


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I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently?
And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt;
and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again."

~Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass 








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The birds of winter around my home  

Blue-gray gnatcatcher 

Robin in the snow (we see robins here all year-round)
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The Cardinal stood out like a picture fair,
As snowflakes struck its body there.
Upon a branch of the winter tree,
Nestled among the needles proud and free.
~Joseph T. Renaldi


In my area, cardinals are only seen in the winter months. 


Cardinal sitting pretty on a snowy morning




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The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

~ Robert Frost


Crow (taken with a long lens)

Crows on a snowy roof

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Coco loves the snow!



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Winter Art

Looking at winter through the eyes of an artist, you can see the majesty and beauty in the season. (I enjoy looking at the season much better than I enjoy being in it!)

Snowy Landscape at Arles ~Vincent Van Gogh 


Train in the Snow at Argenteuil ~Claude Monet


Beneath the Snow Encumbered Branches, Scotland ~Joseph Farquharson


Winter Afternoon, Norway ~Hans Gude 


Whitehall England in Winter ~Paul Maze


Winter Coast, Prout’s Neck, Maine ~Winslow Homer


Snowy Monday in New Hampshire ~Lilla Cabot Perry


Skating in Central Park (New York 1934) ~Agnes Tait
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Spring briefly visited the other day and brought lovely weather with temperatures in the 50s. Everyone smiled at Spring and then Winter got jealous, roaring back with gusts of freezing cold winds and dropping temperatures. As I’m typing this, it’s 19 degrees outside! There are local weather reports of a possible late March snowstorm next week. Winter is not leaving quietly this year! But Winter’s days are numbered. I saw a lone daffodil bravely poking her head out from a small patch of snow, a welcome sight. Spring is just around the corner!


©2014 JerseyLil’s2Cents all text and photos
Paintings in public domain (from WikiPaintings, WikiMedia Commons and Google images) 

45 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Angie!!

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    2. I enjoyed your writing, the paintings and photos very much. Strange ... I am so sick of the cold, the snow, the shoveling ... but looking through your blog ... I am reminded that winter is beautiful in its own way.

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    3. Thanks Jaime, I really appreciate that! It has been such a rough winter this year and I am so sick of it too. This post was my way of finding some joy in all that misery. Every season has a beauty all its own.

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  2. Sorry to hear that winter is still up there. Here is mostly spring, 60s degree. Today is unusually cold but still sunny. I am just like you, dislike living in coldness. My heath was destroyed by 4 years living in upstate NY. But I also agree, there is a beauty about winter. You took some amazingly beautiful photos! I love all of them. Favorites are number 1, 5, 6, 8 12. And the last painting is also my favorite painting by one of my favorite artists, (though I didn't remember his name, but now I know!)

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    1. Yun, thanks! Winter seems to refuse to leave here this year. I really dislike coldness too, I’m with you on that. I am so sorry to hear that cold weather destroyed your health when you lived in upstate NY. My nephew attends college in Rochester, NY, so I know how cold it gets up there. Such frigid cold here in Maryland this year is unusual. We don’t usually drop into single digits; the weather here is really very much like New Jersey where I grew up, and they are having a bad winter too. Thank you about the photos! And I’m glad you liked the winter paintings I chose, some of my favorites. I am particularly fond of the last one too because I love scenes of Central Park.

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  3. I just love to see the white thick snow in winter but I don't like the feeling of being cold for long periods of time. Winter always looks better from inside a warm cosy house with a glass of wine. I can't wait for the summer this year, and hopefully it will be a long one. You've got some beautiful pictures from around your home and what beautiful red birds. Their rich colour is so striking.

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend JerseyLil

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    1. Thanks Rum-Punch Drunk! I totally agree with you about winter, I dislike the feeling of being cold for long periods of time too. Oh yes, winter always looks better from inside a warm cozy house with a glass of wine, absolutely, and make mine red! Summer cannot arrive fast enough for me either. The beautiful red birds are Northern Cardinals. The males have the spectacular scarlet plumage. We only see them here in winter. They move around so quickly that by the time I grab my camera, they are often gone, but I caught a couple lucky shots this year when the cardinal sat so pretty for me while the snow was falling. Hope you have a wonderful weekend too!

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  4. Madilyn, thanks for all those beautiful pictures and paintings. As sensational as those paintings are, I enjoyed your pictures even more. You really have a wonderful eye. Wednesday, we had a foot of snow and the following morning a wind chill of -15. In spite of that, I had a great time stepping outside and shoveling the snow. It was so invigorating, being in the midst of all that wild nature. I was surprised I could enjoy it so much. Maybe some of Coco's winter enthusiasm is rubbing off on me.

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    1. Marty, thank you for the wonderful compliment! I’m just an amateur but I love taking photos, and as miserable as winter can be, there is a certain beauty about the season. I’m happy you enjoyed the paintings too. Another foot of snow there and a wind chill of -15, ugh! Reports are for more snow here too early next week. Shoveling is hard work but good for you for feeling invigorated being in the midst of all that wild nature! Can’t say I get invigorated shoveling but I do when I’m outside taking photos of nature. Maybe Coco’s enthusiasm in rubbing off on both of us!

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  5. Hi Jersey. We do had some brief spring visits here.
    The pictures and poems your shared are beautiful.
    I will be back to your blog during the weekend to savor them slowly. I have to get back to work now!
    I miss your visits to my blog.
    And yes, winter has been very cold this year!

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    1. Thank you, Julia! I’m happy you enjoyed the pictures, and I just knew you’d like the poems, being a poet yourself! Winter has been very cold this year. I thought you were taking a break from blogging so I hadn’t been over to your blog in a while, but I will definitely be over to visit!

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    2. I can't get enough of the paintings and the photographs you posted. It's breathtaking!

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    3. Julia, thanks so much!! We got more snow here over the weekend and now into Monday, St. Patrick’s Day. Eight more inches so far! I peeked over at your blog and I see you have very interesting posts I’ve missed and want to comment on. Need to help hubby shovel and make a path for Coco in the snow, but I will be over there later! :)

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    4. Just to add: I was born and raised in New Jersey but I currently live in Maryland by DC, and we’ve had even more snow here this year than my relatives got farther north in Jersey!

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    5. Oh, dear!
      Jersey, thank you so much for the comments you left on my blog. I agree. I am happy and thankful for our friendship!
      I want to add one more thing: I just read the comment you left under my poem "Choice". ( It was not there a few days ago and I did check a few times. The administrator did not "upload" it earlier I think.)
      Thank you for commenting on all my poems. Your comments and feedback mean A LOT to me. I cherish every word you say. I really feel that you understand me.
      Thank you.

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    6. You are very welcome, Julia! I am very appreciative and thankful for your friendship tool! Your poetry is excellent, really beautiful. I think we seem to have a lot in common and that may be why I understand your poetry. I’ve written poems in the past, many in my younger days (had some published in college literary magazines). Haven’t written much in the way of poetry in a long time but after reading what you’ve published, I’ve started writing poems again, so you are an inspiration! :)

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  6. Hi Madilyn,
    Wonderful photos and art from many countries. I loved it. As I've said before I don't really know much at all about winter here in Sydney. If the temperature drops below 60 we start to complain.But since my son lives in Chicago I have made many visits and last April I learnt how bitter it can be.
    Your photos of snow on trees and the Lewis Carroll quote reminded me of a photo I was sent recently of a park opposite my son's home. I didn't recognise it with snow. It had been transformed into a 'winter wonderland', when usually it was just a small nondescript reserve.
    If you want a clue as to the end of all this misery, then keep checking the weather in Sydney. When it starts to cool down, you guys will get slowly warmer. Unfortunately just now it is 28 celsius (about 82), but that is set to change next month.

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    1. Hi Neil and thanks! When I chose the art to post, I looked for winter art from various countries, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you about the photos too. How nice to have no winter to speak of there in Sydney! But since your son lives in Chicago, you know what a winter here in the US can feel like. Yes, bitter cold indeed. I love that Lewis Carroll quote and sometimes a blanket of snow can look like a “winter wonderland.” Enjoy your 82 degree weather right now in Sydney, and remember us when it drops all the way down to 60 there!

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    1. Donna, I can’t find it in my spam folder and don’t know what happened to it, but I don’t like that it vanished like that. Please repost your comment, thanks!

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  8. Madilyn, I'd read this beautiful post on my way to work in the puny rectangle of my smartphone but I wanted to check out this white, frozen world on the luxury of the wider screen before I'd comment. Also, I've stopped punching comments through that ridiculous scrabble. I am spoilt for choices here, for those superbly captured images, those magnificent paintings, captivating quotes and your own, rolling, flawless diction. You leave me with no doubt of the state you have been of late, and that of the bue-gray gnatcatcher and the robin, and the cardinal and the crow and Coco. Thanks for refreshing that bit by Robert Frost too.

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    1. Umashankar, thank you for your lovely compliment on my post! It certainly has been a “white, frozen world” here this winter and when I wasn’t thinking about how cold it was, I tried to capture the beauty I saw through the lens of my camera. I’m so glad you enjoyed all the photos and paintings. I especially love taking photos of birds when I can grab my camera fast enough. And Coco posed nicely in the snow. Robert Frost’s verse on winter and the crow is one of my favorites and I’m glad you liked it too.

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  9. I don't miss the cold, but I do miss the stark beauty of winter that your beautiful photos showed. And thank you for sharing those masterful paintings of winter scenes. I feel refreshed!

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    1. Thank you, Carol! I’m delighted you enjoyed the photos and paintings, and very glad you stopped by.

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  10. A delightful post JL,....but it did make me shiver.
    Nevertheless, Coco seemed to be truly enjoying himself.
    I agree with your sentiments on the cold, although @ one time it didn't seem to worry me. (Lewis Carroll had no trouble putting a romantic twist on the whole thing of course...no surprise there.)
    Hadn't seen that Van Gogh, but picked it as him straight away.
    Cheers, ic

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    1. Thanks, Ian! Would you believe my post made me shiver too just looking at all that coldness! Yes, Coco really does enjoy the snow, and she may be the only one around here who does. At her senior age, she can’t run around the way she used to but she still loves being out in it. Lewis Carroll had a way of making everything seem magical, even the winter snow, and when I found that verse, I knew I wanted to use it in my post. You have a good eye picking out the Van Gogh painting before you read that it was him. Van Gogh is one of my all-time favorite artists and I liked that particular winter scene, plus there is a dog in it. Cheers to you, too!

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  11. Lovely photos, Madilyn! You are so wise to seek the beauty even in the difficult places - I, too, have struggled to find the good despite the record-breaking horribly cold temperatures here this winter! There is always, always something to be thankful for, isn't there? I hope you will soon be in shirt-sleeves, stomping in puddles!! :)

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    1. Melody, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I bet you’re having a horribly cold winter up there in Canada too! When it’s so miserably cold, it’s difficult to find the good in it so that’s why I looked for the beauty in the season through photos and art. Even as I’m writing this, we are due for yet another snowstorm tomorrow. Still, spring will arrive one day and then I’ll be in shirt-sleeves and perhaps even stomping around in puddles!

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  12. I love winter photography and art - I just don't like the cold. Your pictures are gorgeous.

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    1. Coffee Lady, I absolutely agree! I love the winter photography and art but dislike the cold too. Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and art!

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  13. Awesome pics Lil. I'm glad I can appreciate them while indoors and drinking hot coffee.

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    1. Thanks Big D! Yes, sitting indoors with a nice mug of steaming, hot coffee or hot cocoa is the best way to look at pictures of winter, rather than being outside in it!

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  14. In Western Canada, what you find surprising is "winter as usual." Mind you, we did get one night at -52°C (that would be -62F) which was a bit strange, because we rarely get below -40 (same in both C and F). Your photos and other pictures are delightful! Hope you have a decent spring, soon. We're melting here, today, but are supposed to get more snow overnight.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

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    1. Hi Rob-bear and thank you! I bet up there in Western Canada you really know what a cold, snowy winter is! Spring should be arriving soon, and I hope you have a wonderful Spring as well. Blessing and Bear hugs right back at ya! (Btw, a few times I tried to leave comments on your blog, but they never showed up and I’m wondering if I accidently got into your spam folder? I will try again!)

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  15. This is such a beautiful, beautiful post JLil.. I absolutely love it. Such beautiful photos.. Just lovely..

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    1. Thanks so much, Mimi!! I really appreciate that you loved my photos and the winter art I posted. Now I am ready for Spring! :)

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  16. Gorgeous! It has been a hard winter, but you can't deny the beauty of it.

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    1. Hi Kathy, thank you for dropping by my blog! I am so happy you enjoyed the post. It has been a hard winter but there's always beauty in every season. :)

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  17. Jersey You outdid yourself and are becoming a master photographer. I absolutely hate winter, but somehow with your photos you brought warmth to it. I love all the photos, but especially the second tree and the cardinal shots (and of course beautiful CoCo.). The last painting is one of my favorites. You did a lot of work on this and it's beautiful.

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    1. Donna, thank you so much!! I am no fan of winter but I find some warmth in it by taking photos. I especially love taking photos of birds, and of course, Coco! Those cardinal shots were the best ones I ever took and I just got lucky when I caught the cardinal sitting on the branch as the snow was falling. I really love the last painting too, Skating in Central Park. I was searching for women artists doing winter scenes and was so pleased when I found that one from 1934 by Agnes Tait. :)

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  18. I found your blog on Coffee Lady's blog. The winter pictures are amazing!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Betty, I really appreciate that! :)

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  19. Wow All those Pictures are so beautiful. Thanks for writing this awesome post.

    Regards,
    Swapnil

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    1. Thank you and I appreciate you stopping by my blog! :)

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